Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a non-profit organization with the sole mission of assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens. ERIC is governed and managed by states who choose to join, and was formed in 2012 with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
The seven states that pioneered the formation of ERIC in 2012 are: Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. More states are expected to join in 2013 and beyond.
The states were inspired to create ERIC due to the challenges in maintaining the accuracy of voter registration records. While most private industry, and many government agencies, have updated their systems to take advantage of modern technology, voter registration systems remain largely based on 19th century tools, such as handwriting on paper forms and postal mail. The inherent inefficiencies in the system result in unnecessarily high costs, and make it difficult to keep voter rolls clean throughout the country. For example, 1 in 8 voter registration records in America contain a serious error. In addition, more than 51 million citizens, or 25 percent, remain unregistered to vote.
How ERIC Works
The ERIC data center is a sophisticated tool that allows states to securely and safely compare voter data, thereby improving the accuracy of their voter rolls. States that choose to participate in ERIC gain access to state-of-the-art technology to compare information on eligible voters from official data sources submitted by the states, such as records from the voter registration rolls and from the state motor vehicle agency, and reports back to the states where there is a highly confident match indicating a voter moved or died, or the existence of a duplicate record. States can then begin the process under federal and state law to clean up the voter rolls, targeting their efforts based on solid data.
Participating states also receive information on unregistered individuals who are potentially eligible to vote. This information, which states have never previously received, will allow them to reach out to those citizens to encourage them to register in the most efficient way -- often online -- and at the most efficient time – weeks or months, rather than days, before an election or registration deadline. Receiving actionable information earlier in the election cycle will reduce costs and administrative burdens to state election officials, while also reducing the incentive for unregulated third-party registration groups to engage in large scale registration efforts.
Why ERIC works
Though many areas of government have improved services by upgrading the way they receive and process information, election administrators lack access to relevant data and the tools to manage that data. Election officials are too often required to act in the absence of information on a voter, not knowing whether someone has moved, died, or remains an active voter. Through ERIC, participating states are given the tools to better manage the voter registration process. ERIC equips election administrators with high quality information enabling them to better maintain their lists. States will be given access to more data earlier in the election cycle when meaningful action can be taken to improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls.
Benefits of ERIC membership
- Reduced costs: Enabling election officials to keep their records up-to-date year-round, and discouraging the high volume of inefficient paper registrations driven by third party groups close to major elections will result in long-term cost savings.
- More accurate voter rolls with the near elimination of duplicate and invalid registrations.
- Reduced opportunity for and perception of potential election fraud.
- Improved protection of voters’ privacy.