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Texas Will Enter New Year Without Voter Crosscheck Program

The state has not been able to find an adequate successor program after leaving ERIC in October. Texas officials are now considering how they might build their own voter roll cleaning system.

voters wait in line behind a lawn flag that says "VOTE"
Voters wait to cast their ballots at the Disability Right Texas polling station on Nov. 8, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
(Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
Texas is headed into 2024 without an interstate voter crosscheck program in place after the state formally left the nation’s only functional program to check whether voters are registered to vote in two states.

Officials at the secretary of state’s office have been in contact with election officials in West Virginia, Ohio and Georgia in recent months about creating a successor program to the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, according to emails obtained by The Dallas Morning News through an open records request.

Texas officially left ERIC in October after a bill passed by the Legislature this year made it essentially impossible for the state to continue with its partnership with the organization, which checks for duplicates in voter rolls in more than 20 states.

ERIC was founded by Republican and Democratic election officials in 2012 to create a multi-state clearinghouse of information to clean rolls of voters who had moved or died. It also was designed to prevent “double voting,” in which a voter casts a ballot in multiple states.

The sophisticated effort has not been matched, according to Charles Stewart III, director of the MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab. Texas joined in 2020.

Conspiracy Theories


The organization has been beset by conspiracy theories since early 2022, when a conservative website published a series of articles on ERIC that have been refuted. During that year, ERIC helped the state identify 200,000 voters who were removed from rolls after the state confirmed they had moved.

However, lawmakers in Texas seized upon the organization’s requirement for states to conduct voter registration drives as a condition of participation.

Some Republican lawmakers accused it of being a voter registration effort disguised as a crosscheck system. The bill reduced funding for participation and disallowed any new partnership to contain a voter registration component.

Critics of efforts to undermine ERIC have called it a threat to upcoming elections.

“It’s all in response to election disinformation that has been fueled by conspiracy theories,” said Maya Ingram, senior policy counsel at the States United Democracy Center. “This threatens the states’ ability to successfully and continuously keep voter roll information current and secure.”

The secretary of state’s office is not currently contracting or soliciting any third-party crosscheck service, though emails indicate officials have been contacted by multiple companies soliciting their services, according to emails obtained through an open records request and a secretary of state spokesperson.

With no equal in place, the office is examining how it might obtain data from organizations or agencies to build its own system, according to an office spokesperson.

On March 10, Secretary of State Jane Nelson announced that her office was beginning an effort laying the groundwork for Texas to leave ERIC and create its own voter crosscheck program. Three days later, an official with the Ohio secretary of state’s office contacted Texas’ then-head of the nascent effort to create a successor to ERIC, offering her perspective, according to emails from the secretary of state’s office.

Ohio’s secretary of state announced the state would leave ERIC by the end of the week.

Amanda Grandjean, a senior adviser to Ohio’s secretary of state, organized working groups focused on a near-term goal of sharing information state to state with a longer-term goal of creating a centralized voter crosscheck center akin to ERIC. One would focus on the specifics of sharing data while another would develop a template for any resulting agreements.

Sharing Data


Through June, Grandjean appeared to lead the multistate effort along with an official at West Virginia’s elections office, who surveyed election officials on their capabilities for sharing data. They traded draft memorandums of understanding proposing what agreements might look like.

It is unclear where those efforts stand. But in response to an inquiry from The News, a Texas secretary of state spokesperson said no agreements have been signed.

“We are talking with other states about sharing data directly, but we have not signed any MOUs (memorandums of understanding) at this time,” spokesperson Alicia Pierce said.

MIT’s Stewart said any successor program the states that left ERIC might create would be inferior and likely would take years of development before becoming operational. Stewart also cautioned against states using private companies to run a voter crosscheck system.

“What we are now seeing is all supply driven by vendors trying to make a buck,” he said. “That is a scandal waiting to happen.”

While Texas no longer has access to ERIC, the impact in 2024 should be limited.

Federal election law prevents states from removing people from voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election, including primaries. Texas is prevented from conducting a crosscheck for most of 2024 even if the state was still in ERIC.

But duplications in Texas’ voting rolls will only grow until the state finds an alternative, Stewart said.

“The ability to update those registrations, Texas is probably going to be less well situated to do that in the long run,” he said.

©2023 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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