Ohio and Iowa became the latest GOP-led states to indicate they’re withdrawing from the national voter verification coalition over concerns about its impartiality.
Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state rumored to be mulling a run for the U.S. Senate in 2024, announced the decision in a letter (pdf) to the director of the coalition, called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
“I cannot justify the use of Ohio’s tax dollars for an organization that seems intent on rejecting meaningful accountability, publicly maligning my motives, and waging a relentless campaign of misinformation about this effort,” LaRose wrote.
LaRose’s letter came soon after member states that are part of the coalition held a meeting on Friday and a proposal to reform some of the coalition’s bylaws failed.
“ERIC has chosen repeatedly to ignore demands to embrace reforms that would bolster confidence in its performance, encourage growth in its membership, and ensure not only its present stability but also its durability,” LaRose wrote.
He argued that the coalition has transformed from a “previously bipartisan organization to one that appears to favor only the interests of one political party.”
Following Friday’s meeting, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate was cited by Politico as saying that the departure of several states from the coalition undermines its ability to serve as an effective tool for Iowa.
“My office will be recommending resigning our membership from ERIC,” Pate said, per Politico.
A request for comment sent to ERIC outside of normal working hours was not immediately returned.
ERIC was set up to let elections officials from different states cross-check data when seeking to confirm their voter rolls. It lets states know when voters move or die so that voter rolls can be kept up to date.
It also generates data on people who may be eligible to register to vote but have not, while requiring states to contact such would-be voters.
But the coalition has been under fire from Republicans in several states in the wake of 2021 allegations by Gateway Pundit that the coalition was “a left-wing voter registration drive disguised as voter roll clean-up.”
During Friday’s meeting and vote, two initiatives failed. One of them—previously proposed by LaRose—would have allowed member states to decide what to do with data produced by ERIC. The other would have tied the requirement to contact eligible unregistered voters to a report that helps states identify double voting.
Iowa and Ohio are the sixth and seventh GOP-led states to opt out of ERIC, with media speculation that others might soon join. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and West Virginia have all dropped out of the coalition.
Former President Donald Trump has been critical of the consortium.
Trump Weighs In
Following the recent decision of Florida, Missouri, and West Virginia to withdraw, Trump encouraged more Republican-led states to take similar action.
“All Republican Governors should immediately pull out of ERIC, the terrible Voter Registration System that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up. It is a fools game for Republicans,” Trump said in a post on Truth Social.
Florida, Missouri, and West Virginia were among ERIC members that proposed changes in how the states would work together in the consortium, including eliminating a requirement for member states to notify and encourage eligible unregistered voters to register.
ERIC executive director Shane Hamlin in a March 2 open letter, citing “recent misinformation spreading about ERIC,” iterated the network is a bipartisan nonprofit, is financed by member states, is not connected to any state’s voting system, and follows standard safety protocols.
“We analyze voter registration and motor vehicle department data, provided by our members through secure channels, along with official federal death data and change of address data, in order to provide our members with various reports,” he wrote.
“They use these reports to update their voter rolls, remove ineligible voters, investigate potential illegal voting, or provide voter registration information to individuals who may be eligible to vote.”
John Haughey contributed to this report.