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In 2012, seven states formed the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. The partnership, which now includes 33 states, shares voter registration data in an effort to clear the voter rolls of people who have moved or died.
ERIC was launched with start-up money from the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts, but is now funded by member states.
An organization connected to George Soros gave money to Pew between 2009 and 2011, but it was earmarked for a separate project.
Mark Finchem, the Republican running for Arizona secretary of state, has falsely linked liberal billionaire George Soros and an organization that helps states clean up voter rolls.
Finchem said if he is elected, he will withdraw Arizona from the Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC. States that are part of the organization can access other member states’ voter registration and driver's license data. Election officials can then use that information to remove from voter rolls the names of people who have died or moved.
"We need to get out of ERIC, a system that’s funded by George Soros," Finchem said Oct. 9 at an event also attended by former President Donald Trump to rally for Arizona Republicans running for office.
If Finchem becomes secretary of state he would have the authority to give written notice to drop out of ERIC. But he is wrong to say the partnership is funded by Soros; the member states fund ERIC.
Finchem, a state lawmaker, faces Democrat Adrian Fontes in the November election. Fontes is a former Maricopa County election official who lost re-election in 2020 to Republican Stephen Richer.
Finchem is part of the America First coalition of secretary of state candidates who have run on the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. The group has been influenced by a key figure in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
Republicans running for secretary of state in Nevada and Michigan have also falsely claimed ERIC is backed by Soros. One of America First’s platforms is to enact "aggressive voter roll cleanup." Their stance against ERIC ignores that its purpose is to help states do a better job at cleaning up voter rolls. We contacted Finchem through his campaign website and did not get a response.
There is no national database of voters, which means that states and local jurisdictions are responsible for maintaining up-to-date voter rolls.
Keeping voter rolls up to date is a challenge because when people move, they often don’t alert their local elections office. Even though officials routinely update their voter rolls, the rolls are constantly changing, including because of voters who die.
To tackle those challenges, seven states formed ERIC in 2012 with $139,000 in startup funds from the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., are members of ERIC.
The states are roughly evenly divided between those with Republican and Democratic state election officials, according to ERIC.
Today, member states fund ERIC. New members pay a one-time fee of $25,000 to help cover expenses for technology upgrades and expansions necessary to support a growing membership.
States also pay annual dues based in part on the voting age population in each state. Members approve the dues and the annual budget. Dues for the 2022-23 fiscal year range from about $26,000 to about $116,000.
At least every 60 days, each member state submits its voter registration data, licensing and identification data from motor vehicle departments to ERIC. ERIC generates reports that identify voters who moved within the state, voters who moved to another ERIC state, voters who died, and voters with duplicate registrations in the same state. Since 2013, ERIC has identified more than 25 million voters who fall into one of these categories.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, called assertions that ERIC is a Soros-funded leftist group "patently false." In an Alabama Today op-ed in February, Merrill wrote that since Alabama joined ERIC in 2016, it had identified more than 222,000 voter records of potential cross-state movers plus tens of thousands of voters who had died or had duplicate registrations.
The falsehood that ERIC is funded by Soros appears to have originated with stories by the conservative website The Gateway Pundit in January. One of those stories pointed to a document showing a Soros organization gave money to the Pew Charitable Trusts, but the document says the funding was for "voting rights" — not for ERIC.
The Pew Charitable Trusts received grants from Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society from 2009 to 2011. The money helped fund the Voting Information Project, which gives voters information about where to vote and what’s on the ballot. That project is unrelated to ERIC and was later taken over by another group, Democracy Works.
Pew gave ERIC a $288,000 grant in 2019 for information technology upgrades.
Finchem said that the Electronic Registration Information Center is "a system that’s funded by George Soros."
ERIC is a partnership among 33 states that are led by Democrats and Republicans. The group shares voter registration data to keep voter rolls up to date. It is funded by member states who pay an upfront fee to join and by annual dues.
States formed ERIC in 2012 with start-up funds from the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts. A Soros organization gave money to Pew between 2009 and 2011, but it was for a separate, unrelated project.
We rate this statement False.
RELATED: Mark Finchem on the Truth-O-Meter
C-SPAN, Former President Donald Trump rally in Arizona, Oct. 9, 2022
Electronic Registration Information Center, FAQs, Aug. 18, 2022
Arizona Mirror, Stephen Richer wins Maricopa County recorder race, Fontes concedes, Nov. 12, 2020
VoteBeat, "No clear explanation for Louisiana’s decision to pull out of voter-roll program," Feb. 21, 2022
VoteBeat, The truth about ERIC, the voter roll program targeted by extremists, May 3, 2022
Alabama Today, "John Merrill: Response to Rep. Wes Allen on ERIC membership," Feb. 1, 2022
Voting Information Project, Accessed Oct. 10, 2022
Pew, Voting information project gets new home, June 18, 2018
Doug Mastriano Fight for Freedom on Facebook, "Gettysburg Voter Integrity Conference," March 19, 2022
Ottawa County Patriots, Kristina Karamo speech, March 16, 2022
Gateway Pundit, Who’s "cleaning" our voter rolls? Soros founded and funded ERIC is now used in 31 states, Jan. 20, 2022
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana to suspend participation in voter registration compact, Jan. 27, 2022
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Letter to ERIC, July 13, 2022
Democracy Works, The Voting Information Project, Accessed Oct. 13, 2022
Pew Charitable Trusts, Giving Voters the Information They Need, 2013
Email interview with Jonathan Kaplan, spokesperson for Open Society Foundations, May 31, 2022
Email interview with Matt Mulkey, spokesperson for Pew Charitable Trusts, May 27 and Oct. 11, 2022
Email interview with Shane Hamlin, Electronic Registration Information Center executive director, May 25 and Oct 10, 2022
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