To maintain accurate voter registers, a 32-state voter registration agreement has been terminated by Alabama, according to the state’s newly appointed secretary of state.
However, the cooperation has occasionally drawn criticism from the right and has been the subject of conspiracy theories.
Secretary of State Wes Allen informed the nonprofit organization that links 32 states and the District of Columbia, the Electronic Registration Information Center, in a letter delivered the day after his inauguration on Jan. 17, that the state will no longer share voter registration information.
In a statement, Allen stated, “I pledged to the people of Alabama that my first official act as Secretary of State would be to sever our state’s ties to the ERIC organization. Alabama would stop transferring data right away, according to the letter.
The Republican pledged a campaign commitment to leave ERIC, and in making that commitment, he cited privacy concerns. “It troubles me and the individuals I’ve heard from as I’ve traveled the state over the past 20 months,” Allen said.
“Providing the private information of Alabama citizens, especially underage adolescents, to an out-of-state group.”
The database was developed as a tool to maintain accurate voter rolls and combat fraud by enabling states to know when someone moves, dies or registers elsewhere, but it occasionally comes under fire from opponents. Republican colleague John Merrill, a former secretary of state, had opposed Allen’s intention to resign in November.
He claimed at the time that ERIC has been a vital tool for maintaining voter rolls because it gives data that Alabama couldn’t otherwise obtain, such as other states’ voter registration and driver’s license records.
Merrill stated on January 18, following Allen’s letter of resignation, “I hope he has considered this matter and is making the decision based on what he considers to be in the best interest of the state of Alabama.”
In at least one other state, the subject of taking part in ERIC was brought up. During the election, the Republican running for secretary of state in Arizona declared that if elected, he would leave ERIC. Late last year, Louisiana withdrew.
An additional Republican, though, ran on a platform of joining the alliance.
Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state for Georgia, enthusiastically mentioned the state’s membership in ERIC during campaign rallies. The integrity of Georgia’s voter rolls would advance significantly, according to Raffensperger in 2019.
The following states are currently members of ERIC, according to the organization: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Another member is the District of Columbia.
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