In virtual meetings taking place over a year, right-wing activists and Republican legislators have stoked concern over a multistate coalition that Texas and more than 30 other states use to help clean voter rolls. The majority of their grievances — that it is run by left-wing voter registration activists and funded by George Soros, among other things — were pulled straight from a far-right conspiracy website and are baseless.
Now, lawmakers who regularly attend those meetings have introduced legislation written by the group that would end Texas’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center, also known as ERIC.
The bills were introduced despite the efforts of Texas’s elections director, who attended a meeting and offered factual information related to their concerns last April, apparently without success.
Keith Ingram, the elections director for the secretary of state’s office, told the group the program was the only option available to ensure voters aren’t registered or voting in more than one state at the same time. Nonetheless, the activists moved forward with an effort that experts say is set to undermine one of the best election integrity tools available to Texas and other states to prevent election fraud.
“We want to be able to do something and we have a senator that’s willing to help change that or add language or improve or reform ERIC,” said Toni Anne Dashiell last August, referring to Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola. Dashiell, the Republican national committeewoman for Texas, organizes the meetings and refers to them as “TAD Talks.”
Shortly after, the group’s ERIC task force — led by Alan Vera, the current Harris County Republican Party ballot security chairman, and Dana Myers, the Texas Republican Party vice-chair — began drafting legislation. Myers declined to comment for this story. Dashiell and Vera did not respond to Votebeat’s requests for comment or to emailed questions about how the effort would improve elections in Texas.
Vera announced during a January meeting of the task force that they had submitted the draft of such a bill to Hughes’ staff for review. Hughes, who attended almost every single one of the virtual meetings, filed legislation with their suggestions as Senate Bill 1070 in February. Rep. Jacey Jetton, R-Richmond, also a regular speaker in the virtual calls, filed a companion bill in the House. Hughes and Jetton did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Now, there is no evidence that ERIC is doing anything to Texas voter rolls, I want to be clear about that,” Hughes said during a virtual meeting in October. “But we do know, again, that the people running ERIC don’t share our worldview.” …
Former Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican who left office after deciding against running for another term last year, told Votebeat that if states stop using ERIC, the potential for election fraud could increase “exponentially.”
Merrill said that since the program was created in 2012, there have been no instances of vulnerabilities or irregularities associated with it. “Nothing has ever happened. Nothing’s ever been documented. Only these failed claims that have been introduced without any empirical data to back it up whatsoever,” Merrill said. “Why would you want to eliminate this? That tool has helped us be in a position to prosecute those people who have violated the trust and confidence of the process. And there is no other system in the United States at this time that matches that.”
But the Gateway Pundit’s campaign against ERIC has resonated in conservative circles.