The Texas secretary of state submitted its exit notice Thursday to a national coalition that is one of the best tools to combat voter fraud, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Votebeat.
The withdrawal from the program comes after Republican leaders pushed the effort and approved legislation to stop using the Electronic Registration Information Center, also known as ERIC, a program 27 states use to check duplicate voter registrations and clean voter rolls. The campaign to withdraw was underway among members of the Texas Republican Party and Republican lawmakers for more than a year but was rooted in misinformation and election conspiracy theories.
According to the secretary of state’s resignation letter, the state’s exit will be effective in three months, in accordance with the program’s bylaws. By then, a law approved by the Texas Legislature this session, authored by Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, will have gone into effect. That legislation directs the secretary of state to build its own version of a multistate cross-check program or to find a “private sector provider” with a cost that won’t exceed $100,000. Hughes did not respond to Votebeat’s request for comment.
Alicia Pierce, the secretary of state’s spokesperson, said the state could not stay in ERIC because it must now comply with the requirements in the Hughes legislation. She also pointed to previous exits from the coalition by eight other Republican-led states since 2022: Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, Iowa and Virginia, all of which faced similar political pressure.
“As fewer states are participating, the costs are increasing and the amount of data we’re going to receive will be reduced,” Pierce said.
Nonetheless, Texas law still requires the state to participate in a multistate data-sharing program to clean its voter rolls, which is what led the state to join ERIC in 2020. When the state stops using ERIC in October, it will be in violation of that requirement unless it finds an acceptable substitute, which won’t be easy.
State Rep. John Bucy, a Democrat from Austin, said the announcement Thursday was frustrating because ERIC is an effective tool.
“The GOP push to get out of ERIC shows they’re not committed to safe and accurate elections as they claim, but instead are committed to placating extremists in their party that perpetuate the big lie,” Bucy said in a text message.
Bucy successfully added two amendments to Hughes’ bill to withdraw from ERIC in an effort to add some “guardrails” to the law. Those provisions require that a new system used by the secretary of state complies with the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act and all state and federal laws relating to the protection of personal information. Private vendors must do a background check for each employee of the system.
See here for the past history. I predict that in 2025 the Secretary of State comes back to the Lege and pleads for help in figuring out what to do next, because it’s confusion and grifters from here. Good luck with that.