Evaluation Finds ERIC Improves Election Performance

A report commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts to evaluate the performance of the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, has found that states using the system improved their election performance in 2012 on several key measures compared with non-ERIC states.  The study was conducted by the Research Triangle Institute in conjunction with Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

The report evaluates the first phase of ERIC’s functionality, which used state motor vehicle records to identify and contact millions of eligible but unregistered citizens in the participating states, encourage them to register to vote, and provide clear instructions on the most efficient way to register. The second phase, which focuses on voter list maintenance, particularly updating outdated and no-longer-valid records, will be evaluated in 2014.

ERIC states improved on several measures of election performance compared with non-ERIC states:

ERIC surpasses current data matching practices 

  • According to the report, “every state official we interviewed was confident that the ERIC matching process was superior to any efforts their states had undertaken or might do in the near future.”

Cost to participate in ERIC is not prohibitive

  • The researchers state that, “while costs were a salient concern in some states, they were not a pressing issue in most states. The financial costs of belonging to ERIC are distributed across the states based in part on the sizes of state electorates. The seven participating states agreed to the cost structure when ERIC was created.”

No significant burden on staff time for ERIC participation

  • The report found that, “aside from some extended interactions with state motor vehicles agencies, none of the interviewees reported that ERIC was a significant or problematic draw on their staff time or other nonfinancial resources.”

ERIC offers indirect benefits

  • The study also noted that “participation in ERIC enabled states to identify quirks in their system that might otherwise have gone undetected.” For example:
    • Utah discovered a problem with invalid Social Security numbers in a significant number of records.
    • Colorado found “a couple hundred thousand” records in its state motor vehicles files that were missing the photo and signature components, which might have prevented otherwise eligible individuals from accessing the state’s online voter registration system.

ERIC’s benefits will improve over time as more states join

The researchers concluded that, “in some ways, the effects of ERIC will not be fully realized for several years. Registering new voters and cleaning voter rolls are iterative processes that involve repeated data matching, learning, and actions by state officials. In addition, ERIC’s ability to add ‘context’ improves as more data are incorporated.”

Additional resources:

For more information, visit the Electronic Registration Information Center.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.