David Becker, director of election initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Jeff Jonas, IBM fellow and chief scientist, addressed a crowd of 13,000 on Nov. 5 at IBM's Information On Demand 2013 conference about the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. IBM has been a key partner with the states as they work to solve the problems of an outdated voter registration system.
States across the country face obstacles to keeping voter rolls up to date while also ensuring opportunities for all eligible residents to register. Inefficiencies in traditional, paper-based voter registration systems – often stemming from the difficult task of keeping pace with a mobile American society – result in unnecessarily high costs and make it hard to keep voter rolls accurate. For example:
- 1 in 8 voter records is inaccurate or no longer valid.
- Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.
- About 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.
- Almost 1 in 4 eligible citizens – 51 million Americans – is not registered to vote.
Seven pioneering states – Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington – formed ERIC in 2012 to address the challenges of keeping state voter rolls up to date. ERIC is a sophisticated data center that is owned, managed, and funded by state election officials with the mission of improving the accuracy and efficiency of voter registration systems. The District of Columbia will join in January 2014, and more states are expected to come on board after that.
States participating in ERIC gain access to records from neighboring states, as well as data from other official sources, such as address information from the U.S. Postal Service and death records from the Social Security Administration. ERIC is unlike any tool previously available to election officials. It uses advanced software developed by IBM to match records from multiple data sources simultaneously, maximizing the quality of and confidence in possible matches.
Through ERIC, states receive high-quality, easy-to-use data on voters who have moved or died and those with duplicate records, as well as on eligible but unregistered citizens. Consistent with federal and state law, states can then contact those individuals and encourage them to update their registration information.
Watch the IBM presentation here to learn more about the ERIC system.