Secretary of State Cord Byrd said Monday that Florida is ending involvement in a multistate effort to exchange voter-registration data because of perceived partisanship. Byrd said in a prepared statement the decision to withdraw from the Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, stemmed from ERIC’s rejection of proposals by a working group to eliminate “potential partisan leanings.”
Byrd said the working group sought to increase protections of confidential voter information and to limit the power of ex-officio members of the ERIC board who “are not representatives of specific states and have undue influence over the organization and its decisions.” Byrd said Florida has “tried to back reforms to increase protections, but these protections were refused. Therefore, we have lost confidence in ERIC.”
Missouri and West Virginia are also leaving ERIC, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that started with seven states and assistance from the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2012. Since then, funding has come from annual dues paid by state elections officials, which until Monday stood at 32 states and the District of Columbia. Data matches by the center can identify voters registered in more than one state, people who have moved between states and people who have died. The matches can help county elections officials identify and remove people who are no longer eligible to vote from registration lists.
ERIC Executive Director Shane Hamlin on Thursday posted an “open letter” to counter “misinformation spreading” about ERIC. “ERIC is never connected to any state’s voter registration system,” Hamlin said. “Members retain complete control over their voter rolls and they use the reports we provide in ways that comply with federal and state laws. We follow widely accepted security protocols for handling the data we utilize to create the reports.”
In April 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida would join the center, a move long-sought by county supervisors of elections to help ensure the integrity of voter-registration lists.