Newsletter: ERIC Is Still Under Threat

The election denial movement has employed many tactics in recent years aimed at eroding confidence in elections, from pushing for inefficient hand counts and new voting restrictions to issuing mass registration challenges.

And one such tactic — undermining the nonpartisan voter-list maintenance system, ERIC — is still a threat to voting rights and election administration as November fast approaches. 

States began withdrawing from the Electronic Registration Information Center in January 2022 — the result of a sustained campaign by election deniers and allies of former President Trump to sow doubt in the system. While most of the withdrawals came in a wave in the spring and summer of 2023, there remains a danger that more states could depart.

  • Last month, three Utah counties approved nearly identical resolutions calling on the state to leave ERIC.
  • In March, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed a bill that would have required the state, which had withdrawn in May 2023, to restart its ERIC membership. 
  • That same month, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams told USA Today that while he still believed in ERIC’s mission, the departures of other states — along with the voter-roll information they share as part of the consortium — had led him to consider withdrawal.
  • Adams has reportedly signed on to letters urging New York and New Hampshire to join ERIC; Newsday reported last month that New York was expected to join.

At the same time, the Republican National Committee and others are filing lawsuits concerning the very thing ERIC was designed to help with: maintaining up-to-date voter rolls. 

  • In March, the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party sued five Nevada county clerks and the state secretary of state alleging that the counties had “inordinately high” voter registration numbers and that Nevada’s inaccurate voter rolls violated federal law. 
  • The RNC also sued Michigan’s secretary of state, similarly claiming the state failed to maintain accurate voter lists. 
  • Election experts worry that these lawsuits could amplify unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, overwhelm election offices with data requests and voter challenges, and unfairly purge some voters from the rolls.

American Oversight has been investigating the campaign to dismantle ERIC, including how right-wing groups have pushed unproven alternatives that threaten voters’ privacy and access to the ballot by encouraging other citizens to challenge voter registrations.

  • Records we uncovered have provided key details on these dangerous and often ineffective replacements.
  • Read more about our investigation — and read our 2023 report, “The Campaign to Dismantle ERIC,” here.

Judge Dismisses Maryland Election Lawsuit
As Marylanders prepare to vote in the primary this coming Tuesday, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by election denial groups that sought to halt the administration and certification of this year’s vote until their claims — that the state’s election board was violating the law — were addressed. 

  • The lawsuit, which alleged that the state Board of Elections failed to keep accurate voter rolls and used voting machines with unacceptable error rates, was filed in March by Maryland Election Integrity LLC and Missouri-based United Sovereign Americans, which pledged to file many more such lawsuits across the country. 
  • In dismissing the case on Wednesday, the judge said the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring their claims.

In March, American Oversight interim Executive Director Chioma Chukwu told the Baltimore Banner the lawsuit was “yet another attempt to sow distrust in our elections.”

  • “Baseless claims about voting machines and election fraud … have been used to call into question the results of free and fair elections and to undermine our democracy,” Chukwu added.

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Top Republicans, led by Trump, refuse to commit to accept 2024 election results (Washington Post)
  • Sen. Tim Scott dodges on whether he would accept 2024 election results (NBC News)
  • Speaker Mike Johnson and Trump allies who tried to overturn the 2020 election roll out voting ‘integrity’ bill (NBC News)
  • ‘True The Vote’ put out a handbook encouraging vigilante reporting of non-citizen voting (Talking Points Memo)
  • Nessel announces charges tied to breach of 2020 voter data in Hillsdale County (Michigan Advance)
  • Mystery group announces $5 million fund to pay for reports of election fraud. What could go wrong? (Mother Jones)
  • DNC requests judges throw out RNC lawsuits in Michigan and Nevada, arguing they are aimed at sowing distrust in 2024 election (CNN)
  • A group of Republicans has united to defend the legitimacy of US elections and those who run them (Associated Press)
  • Conservative firm sues WEC’s Meagan Wolfe for access to Wisconsin voter list (Wisconsin Public Radio)
Voting Rights
  • In Arizona, election workers trained with deepfakes to prepare for 2024 (Washington Post)
  • Ohio bill on voting law changes would require security reviews, allow hand-counting of ballots (Statehouse News Bureau)
  • Though noncitizens can vote in few local elections, GOP goes big to make it illegal (Stateline)
  • What we know (and don’t know) about Milwaukee’s plan to handle elections under new leadership (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
  • Progressive firm calls on US Attorney to investigate GOP operatives for ‘Souls to the Polls’ texts (Wisconsin Public Radio)
In the States
  • ‘I didn’t say it was valid’: Johnson County sheriff admits he didn’t have signed warrant (Kansas City Star)
  • Republicans approve audit of Wisconsin diversity, equity and inclusion practices (Wisconsin Examiner)
  • Ten years after the Flint water crisis, distrust and anger linger (ProPublica)
  • How a Texas-based think tank upended Florida’s homelessness strategy (Orlando Sentinel)
National News
  • TikTok sues US to block law that could ban the social media platform (Associated Press)
  • VA improperly approved nearly $11 million in bonuses for execs, watchdog finds (Washington Post)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Feds investigate another Texas school district for its gender identity mandate (Texas Tribune)
  • Iowa GOP’s platform encourages repeal of laws recognizing same-sex marriage (Radio Iowa)
  • More GOP states challenge federal rules protecting transgender students (Associated Press)
  • Transgender bathroom bills are back, gaining traction after past boycotts (Wisconsin Public Radio)
  • Utah auditor blasts ‘invasive and overly aggressive Legislature’ for making him trans ‘bathroom monitor’ (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Florida sues Biden administration for new regulations protecting gender-affirming care (Florida Phoenix)
  • A Kansas Republican voted for a gender-affirming care ban. But then she flipped. (19th News)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Out-of-state abortion patients flock to Virginia after Florida’s 6-week ban (Axios)
  • Texas man files legal action to probe ex-partner’s out-of-state abortion (Washington Post)
  • Anti-abortion crusader’s deposition requests generate fear, but no findings (Texas Tribune)
  • Abortion seekers continue to flood Colorado for care. 85% of people requesting travel help are Texans. (Colorado Sun)
  • Idaho seeks to revive ‘abortion trafficking’ law in US appeals court (Reuters)
  • Judge: Alabama groups can sue over threat of prosecution for helping with abortion travel (Associated Press)
  • Abortion ban exceptions for child rape, incest fail in Louisiana House committee (News from the States)
  • New York is suing crisis pregnancy centers for promising ‘abortion reversal’ (Mother Jones)
  • Iowa HHS contracts with four crisis pregnancy centers under MOMS program (Iowa Public Radio)
  • Missouri’s GOP Gov. Parson signs bill to kick Planned Parenthood off Medicaid (Associated Press)
Threats to Education
  • The ‘Remnant Alliance’ is coming for a school board near you (Texas Observer)
  • Cy-Fair ISD board votes to remove chapters teaching vaccines and cultural diversity from textbooks (Houston Chronicle)
Civil Rights
  • Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says student protesters may face felony charges due to 1953 law (News from the States)
  • 33 arrested as DC police clear George Washington University encampment (Washington Post)
  • America’s unseen book bans: The long history of censorship in prisons (Guardian)
  • New York judge blocks amendment barring discrimination on gender identity and pregnancy outcomes (Associated Press)
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • DeSantis lawyer tells appeals judges governor has ‘executive privilege’ to conceal records (Tallahassee Democrat)
  • Hearing planned for amended bill that would restrict access to public records (New Jersey Monitor)
  • Alabama House approves mandatory response times for public records requests (Alabama Reflector)
  • Looking up an NYPD officer’s discipline record? Many are there one day, gone the next (ProPublica)
  • Arkansas Press Association forms committee to support government transparency (Arkansas Advocate)
Immigration
  • US explores AI to train immigration officers on talking to refugees (Reuters)
  • Six years later, 1,400 children remain separated from their families (Washington Post)
  • GOP lawmakers moving forward on plan for border ballot measure (Axios)
  • ‘Why doesn’t anybody care?’ Texas-Mexico border devastated by anti-migrant operation (Guardian)
  • Iowa law allows police to arrest and deport migrants. Civil rights groups are suing (Associated Press)
  • A new rule aims to speed up the removal of a limited group of migrants who don’t qualify for asylum (Associated Press)
Trump Accountability
  • What Trump promised oil CEOs as he asked them to steer $1 billion to his campaign (Washington Post)
  • Pro-Trump nonprofit paid millions to companies tied to its own leaders (New York Times)
Jan. 6 Investigations
  • ‘You’re a go’: How miscues and confusion delayed the National Guard on Jan. 6 (New York Times)