INSTITUTE INDEX: State voter roll protection alliance comes under far-right attack

Three head shots side by side

Among those who have played key roles in the far right's effort to discredit the bipartisan Electronic Registration Information Center are, from left, Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes; Jim Hoft, founder and owner of the conspiracy site The Gateway Pundit; and Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, an election denier. (Hughes photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia, Hoft image is a still from C-SPAN video, and official photo of Byrd.)

Number of Republican-led states* that in the past year have dropped out of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit launched by a bipartisan group of state election officials to help member states maintain accurate voter rolls, with some politicians and observers citing disinformation to justify the move: 7

Since it began operations a decade ago through this past February, number of deceased people ERIC has gotten removed from voting rolls in its more than 20 member states, preventing the possibility of voter fraud in the form of casting ballots in the name of the dead: 577,575

Number of cross-state movers ERIC has identified, helping officials monitor for voters who illegally cast ballots in multiple states in a single election: 11,457,827

Number of potentially eligible but unregistered voters ERIC has also identified, with the organization's rules requiring member states to send them registration instructions — a factor fueling objections by some Republican officials, who have criticized the requirement as a waste of resources: over 60 million

Of the seven states** that founded ERIC in 2012 to address challenges related to the lack of a federal voter registration database, number that were led by Republicans at the time: 4

Number of years ago Florida became a member of ERIC, with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) saying then that "joining ERIC is the right thing to do for our state as it will ensure our voter rolls are up-to-date and it will increase voter participation in our elections": 3.5

Date on which Florida announced it was quitting ERIC, with the DeSantis-appointed Republican Secretary of State Cord Byrd — an election denier who as a state lawmaker was known for sponsoring bills to limit voting — saying he had "lost confidence" in the organization: 3/6/2023

Date on which the Florida Department of State's Office of Election Crimes and Security released a report that said ERIC helped it identify hundreds of people who appeared to have voted in Florida and in another member state in the same election: 1/15/2023

Month in which Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who refused former President Trump's plea to "find" votes for him in 2020, reaffirmed his commitment to ERIC along with Republican election officials in South Carolina and Utah, saying that being a member "has allowed us to be recognized as having the cleanest voter rolls in the country": 3/2023

Month in which two former secretaries of state — Republican Trey Grayson of Kentucky and Democrat Natalie Tennant of West Virginia — spoke out on the value of ERIC, with Grayson noting, "There's broad bipartisan agreement by state and local election officials that this system works and has improved our elections over the last decade. I am deeply troubled to see politics and disinformation get in the way of best practices": 3/2023

Month in which The Gateway Pundit, a far-right conspiracy website, published false claims that ERIC was "a left-wing voter registration drive disguised as voter roll clean up": 1/2022

Weeks after The Gateway Pundit turned its attention to ERIC that Louisiana suspended its participation, with Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin's office refusing to state a reason: 1

Despite claims to the contrary initially made by some on the far right, amount liberal philanthropist George Soros — a prominent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories — has directly donated to ERIC: $0

Of grievances about ERIC cited in virtual meetings held over the last year between right-wing activists and Republican state legislators in Texas, who are now considering withdrawing from the organization, portion that were pulled straight from The Gateway Pundit and are baseless, according to recent reporting by Votebeat and the Texas Tribune: the majority

Month in which Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R), among the sponsors of legislation to leave ERIC, said during one of those virtual meetings that "there is no evidence that ERIC is doing anything to Texas voter rolls" but that "the people running ERIC don't share our worldview": 10/2022

Year in which the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature appropriated funds for the state to join ERIC: 2022

Date on which legislation to repeal that funding was introduced by a group of state representatives including Mitchell Setzer, who was also among a group of Republican state lawmakers who signed onto a letter backing false claims about the 2020 election and calling for President Biden to be ousted from office: 3/15/2023

* Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Iowa, and West Virginia.
** Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington

(Click on figure to go to source.)