By Laurie Bader, Member of LWV-Wake’s Election Protection Committee
The accuracy and integrity of North Carolina’s voter rolls is critical to protecting our elections. Suspicions of voter fraud have led to purges of registered voters from the voter rolls and the passage of Voter ID laws. The Electronic Registration Information System (ERIC) addresses the problem of stale and inaccurate voter rolls by providing a secure data matching service superior to what states can perform on their own.
ERIC is a non-profit organization with the sole mission of assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increasing access to voter registration for all eligible citizens. ERIC is governed and managed by the states who choose to join. There are currently 29 ERIC member states including Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Florida and Massachusetts have been approved to join by their respective legislatures. (See map)
ERIC’s data matching process is unique in that the voter data is intelligently compared to multiple state and federal data sources concurrently using a sophisticated matching engine from IBM and Senzig. The data sources include member state voter registration and DMV data, the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) database, and the Social Security Death Master Index (SSDM). The data matching process produces two reports unique to each member state. The first report contains a list of inaccuracies including voters that have moved either within the state or out of-state, deceased voters, and duplicate voters. The second report contains a list of voters within the state that are eligible to vote but are not registered. As part of the ERIC membership agreement the member states must provide the eligible but unregistered voters information on how to register. The estimate that ERIC provided to the NC State Board of Elections staff projected 2,000,000 eligible but unregistered voters in North Carolina.
ERIC is dedicated to the security and protection of the data in its care and employs industry standard security techniques. The state uses applications provided by ERIC to apply a cryptographic one-way hash to sensitive voter data, thus protecting the privacy of the information at the source. The hashing application converts the information into what appears to be a string of random characters, making the data significantly more difficult for a hacker to utilize. Multiple rounds and types of encryption are used by the state to securely upload the data to the ERIC data center.
The League of Women Voters of Wake County is advocating for NC to join ERIC to improve the accuracy and security of our voting systems and regain voters’ trust in our elections. League members interested in working on these issues should contact LWV-Wake Voters Services Director Marian Lewin at firstname.lastname@example.org.