[Image via theathletic]
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) officially welcomed its 30th member yesterday with the announcement that Florida had been formally accepted to the interstate voter registration data exchange. Here’s the state’s release:
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee announced that Florida has been accepted for membership, along with 29 other members, into the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a multi-state partnership that uses a sophisticated data-matching tool to enhance the accuracy of voter registration systems.
“My administration is committed to protecting the integrity of Florida’s voter rolls and preventing election fraud,” said Governor DeSantis. “As a member of ERIC, Florida is now equipped with more tools to further ensure accurate voter rolls, make voting easier and reduce costs to taxpayers.”
Through ERIC, member states can share information from voter registration systems, motor vehicle databases, social security death records, and U.S. Post Office records. This data-sharing agreement will help identify voters who have moved to another state, passed away, or changed their name in Florida.
In addition to enhancing the accuracy of voter rolls, ERIC also improves voter registration by providing information for member states to contact potentially eligible but unregistered voters with instructions on how to register to vote. Prior to the 2020 general election, Florida will spend $1.3 million to contact potentially eligible voter who are not registered to vote. This outreach is conducted every two years ahead of federal general elections.
“I have heard strong support for joining ERIC from supervisors of elections all over Florida, and I am excited to provide them with one more tool to serve voters in Florida,” said Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. “Joining ERIC keeps Florida at the forefront of election security and will help us ensure fair and accurate election in 2020 and beyond.”
Governor DeSantis included in his 2020-2021 recommended budget to the Florida Legislature the necessary funding to move forward with joining ERIC, which includes annual dues estimated at $75,000 and an estimated $1.3 million to conduct outreach to potentially eligible but unregistered voters through a direct mailer. Florida’s full participation in ERIC prior to the 2020 elections will be contingent upon receiving funding from the Legislature.
Membership in ERIC includes several tasks on which the state will get started right away – but the state’s election director alerted county election supervisors at their annual winter meeting that not all of those tasks might be complete before the 2020 election, the Tampa Bay Times reports:
Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews said [ERIC] is expected to identify as many as 4.5 million voters in Florida who are eligible but not registered. Elections officials will provide outreach to them, [but] it is unlikely that other features of the program — such as finding about 1 million eligible residents who moved to Florida but are not registered and others those who move within the state — will get done before Election Day.
“It could still happen,’’ she said, but because of a federal deadline that gives the state a narrow window to remove anyone from the voting lists, if voters don’t come forward themselves, the state is not likely to alert another state or counties within the state that newcomers should be removed. “You don’t want to confuse voters,’’ she said.
Whether or not all of these features are active in 2020, Florida’s membership in ERIC is a big deal for the Sunshine State and for the other 29 members, who will now have access to data on movers to and from one of the nation’s largest states. Kudos to the state and local election officials in Florida who worked (and occasionally fought!) hard to make this happen – and congratulations to ERIC’s staff and membership for their persistence in bringing Florida on board. Now the real work begins … stay tuned!