Effort to Prevent Voter Fraud Loses Several GOP States

Florida, Missouri, and West Virginia drop out of bipartisan initiative
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 6, 2023 5:35 PM CST
Effort to Prevent Voter Fraud Loses Several GOP States
A poll worker prepares to give a primary ballot to a voter in Blue Ash, Ohio, in August.   (Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP, File)

Election officials in Florida, Missouri, and West Virginia said Monday they are withdrawing from a bipartisan, multistate effort aimed at ensuring the accuracy of voter rolls that has found itself embroiled in conspiracy theories fueled by Donald Trump's false claims about the 2020 presidential election. The system to thwart voter fraud known as the Electronic Registration Information Center has become a target of suspicion among some Republicans after a series of online posts early last year questioning its funding and purpose. Louisiana withdrew last year, and Alabama is in the process of doing so, the AP reports.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said Monday that he had been pushing the group to address concerns he and others have. "It appears that ERIC will not make the necessary changes to address these concerns, therefore, it is time to move on," Ashcroft said in a statement. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said he did not expect the departure from the program to affect his state's ability to maintain accurate voter rolls. Florida's secretary of state, who is appointed by the governor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shane Hamlin, the group's executive director, confirmed the three states had provided notice to withdraw but said the organization will carry on.

The program was started in 2012 by seven states and was bipartisan from the beginning. Now, 28 states and the District of Columbia remain. The departures have frustrated state election officials involved in the effort and have demonstrated how deeply election conspiracies have spread throughout the Republican Party. "Election officials who pull out of ERIC are primarily harming their own state's ability to keep their voter list accurate," Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement Monday. Not all GOP-led states have been reevaluating their participation. In a recent AP survey, election offices in 23 states and DC said they had no intention of leaving, including eight led or controlled by Republicans.

(More elections stories.)

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