Voters at a polling site in Nassau County for village...

Voters at a polling site in Nassau County for village elections in 2023. New York is expected to join a bipartisan, multistate system to help combat voter fraud. Credit: John Roca

ALBANY — New York is expected to join a bipartisan, multistate system to combat voter fraud in state and presidential election under a little-noticed proposal now in state budget negotiations.

The Election Registration Information Center system, known as ERIC, is a voluntary nationwide organization of Democratic and Republican election officials. The organization reports that it has uncovered millions of outdated, duplicate or fraudulent voter registrations since 2012, when ERIC was created.

The system is the only organization in which states share information from their voter rolls, federal death notices, driver's license records and Postal Service records to improve the accuracy of active voter lists and detect possible illegal voting.

The secure system based in Washington, D.C. identifies the names of dead voters, voters who have moved out of state, and voters who register in more than one community within their state. ERIC also identifies eligible residents who haven’t registered to vote.

“If you care about voter integrity, this is literally the single best thing we can and should be doing,” said Sen. James Skoufis (D-Cornwall), a prime sponsor, in an interview with Newsday.

But New York’s effort to join ERIC comes as the bipartisan service is roiled by national partisan politics. Some Republican states have left the consortium following unproven claims by former President Donald Trump that it will fraudulently boost the Democratic vote.

In Albany, however, the budget proposal appears to have wide, bipartisan support to be passed as part of the state budget deal, which is expected to be sealed between legislative leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul in coming days.

If the measure isn’t part of the final budget deal, a companion bill with strong Senate and Assembly sponsors is expected to be approved and sent to Hochul for her signature. The Senate version of the bill passed unanimously last year and in January, with support from the entire Republican minority conference.

The bill hasn’t gotten the necessary approval in the Assembly yet. But, like Skoufis, the Assembly sponsor is confident the measure will pass in the budget or afterward in the legislative session.

“At the end of the day, what’s controversial about accurate voter rolls?” said Assemb. Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington). “Unfortunately, in recent years, there has certainly been some people who lost faith in the system. This is a really great tool for accurate, clean rolls … this is one more step to bring confidence in the system.”

The 25 states that are now part of ERIC include Republican-dominated ones such as South Carolina, Alaska and Kentucky. ERIC also includes members representing swing states in the presidential election including Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

However, eight Republican states have withdrawn from ERIC since 2022. They include Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL notes other ERIC members facing efforts within their states to withdraw including in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Oklahoma, all of which are Republican-controlled. In 2022, 33 states were part of ERIC, the high point of membership.

Last year Trump, who has insisted without proof that voter fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election, told GOP states to leave ERIC. Trump, the GOP front-runner for president, called ERIC a “terrible Voter Registration System that ’pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.” He provided no proof of that claim.

Trump’s call followed unproven online conspiracies claiming ERIC was funded by Democratic megadonor George Soros. But ERIC is funded through dues paid by each state.

Republican leaders of the Assembly and Senate declined comment on ERIC.

New York hasn’t joined the 12-year-old consortium because of the state’s unusual system of having a Board of Elections run by two Democratic state election commissioners and two Republican state election commissioners. Democrats have supported joining ERIC, but Republicans blocked it. Adopting a law would override that.

“The board will do whatever is required to do if this legislation is passed and signed into law,” said Kathleen McGrath, spokeswoman for the state Board of Elections.

“I’m told that they do not expect any further departures,” said Skoufis, the Senate sponsor. “In fact, ERIC and some of these secretaries of state believe that if New York joins, other states are likely to join such as California. Many people believe within the organization that if New York joins, Florida will join because there are so many New Yorkers who have homes there or who are moving there, and it will prompt (Florida) to reconsider.”

Since 2012, ERIC identified 607,250 deceased voters, 1.1 million cases of voters registered to vote in different communities in their state, and 12.6 million voters who had moved out of state in which they were registered to vote.

ERIC also identified 5.7 million potential voters who hadn’t registered in 2012 and identified additional voters each year, including more than 400,000 people in three states last year.

But some Democrats have a concern about ERIC, too.

ERIC uses election records as well as motor vehicle records, specifically driver's licenses, which can be issued to undocumented immigrants under New York’s Green Light Law and in 18 other states.

But a provision of the bill in Albany states that the Department of Motor Vehicles “shall not provide any information pursuant to this section of persons who are not citizens.” New York Democrats have long fought use of state data by federal law enforcement to target immigrants.

That’s the final issue being negotiated now, Skoufis said.

“ERIC has many member states that have similar Green Light programs in their state, and there’s never been a problem,” Skoufis said. “We are just attempting to get past this hurdle and put in, if necessary, additional guide rails to make sure nothing is shared.

The proposal is in the state budget now being negotiated after the Senate’s Democratic majority made it part of the chamber’s budget proposal. The Senate estimated its cost at $200,000 in the proposed $233 billion state budget.

ERIC charges $25,000 to join and annual dues of $26,000 to $116,000 based on what ERIC’s funding formula determines, which is based in part on the number of voting-age population.

“ERIC is an important tool in improving New York's elections,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, a good-government advocate. “Participation will help the state ensure that its voter roll is accurate and thus improve the integrity of its elections.”

ALBANY — New York is expected to join a bipartisan, multistate system to combat voter fraud in state and presidential election under a little-noticed proposal now in state budget negotiations.

The Election Registration Information Center system, known as ERIC, is a voluntary nationwide organization of Democratic and Republican election officials. The organization reports that it has uncovered millions of outdated, duplicate or fraudulent voter registrations since 2012, when ERIC was created.

The system is the only organization in which states share information from their voter rolls, federal death notices, driver's license records and Postal Service records to improve the accuracy of active voter lists and detect possible illegal voting.

The secure system based in Washington, D.C. identifies the names of dead voters, voters who have moved out of state, and voters who register in more than one community within their state. ERIC also identifies eligible residents who haven’t registered to vote.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • New York is expected to join a bipartisan, multistate system to combat voter fraud in state and presidential election under a proposal in state budget negotiations.
  • The Election Registration Information Center system is a voluntary nationwide organization of Democratic and Republican election officials.
  • The organization reports that it has uncovered millions of outdated, duplicate or fraudulent voter registrations since 2012, when ERIC was created. 

“If you care about voter integrity, this is literally the single best thing we can and should be doing,” said Sen. James Skoufis (D-Cornwall), a prime sponsor, in an interview with Newsday.

But New York’s effort to join ERIC comes as the bipartisan service is roiled by national partisan politics. Some Republican states have left the consortium following unproven claims by former President Donald Trump that it will fraudulently boost the Democratic vote.

In Albany, however, the budget proposal appears to have wide, bipartisan support to be passed as part of the state budget deal, which is expected to be sealed between legislative leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul in coming days.

If the measure isn’t part of the final budget deal, a companion bill with strong Senate and Assembly sponsors is expected to be approved and sent to Hochul for her signature. The Senate version of the bill passed unanimously last year and in January, with support from the entire Republican minority conference.

The bill hasn’t gotten the necessary approval in the Assembly yet. But, like Skoufis, the Assembly sponsor is confident the measure will pass in the budget or afterward in the legislative session.

“At the end of the day, what’s controversial about accurate voter rolls?” said Assemb. Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington). “Unfortunately, in recent years, there has certainly been some people who lost faith in the system. This is a really great tool for accurate, clean rolls … this is one more step to bring confidence in the system.”

The 25 states that are now part of ERIC include Republican-dominated ones such as South Carolina, Alaska and Kentucky. ERIC also includes members representing swing states in the presidential election including Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

However, eight Republican states have withdrawn from ERIC since 2022. They include Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL notes other ERIC members facing efforts within their states to withdraw including in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Oklahoma, all of which are Republican-controlled. In 2022, 33 states were part of ERIC, the high point of membership.

Last year Trump, who has insisted without proof that voter fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election, told GOP states to leave ERIC. Trump, the GOP front-runner for president, called ERIC a “terrible Voter Registration System that ’pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.” He provided no proof of that claim.

Trump’s call followed unproven online conspiracies claiming ERIC was funded by Democratic megadonor George Soros. But ERIC is funded through dues paid by each state.

Republican leaders of the Assembly and Senate declined comment on ERIC.

New York hasn’t joined the 12-year-old consortium because of the state’s unusual system of having a Board of Elections run by two Democratic state election commissioners and two Republican state election commissioners. Democrats have supported joining ERIC, but Republicans blocked it. Adopting a law would override that.

“The board will do whatever is required to do if this legislation is passed and signed into law,” said Kathleen McGrath, spokeswoman for the state Board of Elections.

“I’m told that they do not expect any further departures,” said Skoufis, the Senate sponsor. “In fact, ERIC and some of these secretaries of state believe that if New York joins, other states are likely to join such as California. Many people believe within the organization that if New York joins, Florida will join because there are so many New Yorkers who have homes there or who are moving there, and it will prompt (Florida) to reconsider.”

Since 2012, ERIC identified 607,250 deceased voters, 1.1 million cases of voters registered to vote in different communities in their state, and 12.6 million voters who had moved out of state in which they were registered to vote.

ERIC also identified 5.7 million potential voters who hadn’t registered in 2012 and identified additional voters each year, including more than 400,000 people in three states last year.

But some Democrats have a concern about ERIC, too.

ERIC uses election records as well as motor vehicle records, specifically driver's licenses, which can be issued to undocumented immigrants under New York’s Green Light Law and in 18 other states.

But a provision of the bill in Albany states that the Department of Motor Vehicles “shall not provide any information pursuant to this section of persons who are not citizens.” New York Democrats have long fought use of state data by federal law enforcement to target immigrants.

That’s the final issue being negotiated now, Skoufis said.

“ERIC has many member states that have similar Green Light programs in their state, and there’s never been a problem,” Skoufis said. “We are just attempting to get past this hurdle and put in, if necessary, additional guide rails to make sure nothing is shared.

The proposal is in the state budget now being negotiated after the Senate’s Democratic majority made it part of the chamber’s budget proposal. The Senate estimated its cost at $200,000 in the proposed $233 billion state budget.

ERIC charges $25,000 to join and annual dues of $26,000 to $116,000 based on what ERIC’s funding formula determines, which is based in part on the number of voting-age population.

“ERIC is an important tool in improving New York's elections,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, a good-government advocate. “Participation will help the state ensure that its voter roll is accurate and thus improve the integrity of its elections.”

Trump trial continues … Stony Brook protesters arraigned … Summer attractions Credit: Newsday

Rex Heuermann's house searched ... Trump trial continues ... Stony Brook protesters arraigned ... School budget preview

Trump trial continues … Stony Brook protesters arraigned … Summer attractions Credit: Newsday

Rex Heuermann's house searched ... Trump trial continues ... Stony Brook protesters arraigned ... School budget preview

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME