The Pew Charitable Trusts has awarded grants to two states—Illinois and New Mexico—that recently joined the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a sophisticated interstate data exchange that harnesses cutting-edge technology to clean voter lists and encourage new voter registrations. ERIC alerts election officials about voters whose information might be out of date or who may be eligible but unregistered to vote. For the past several years, Pew has provided grants to new ERIC member states to help defray the cost of their initial outreach, which includes bulk mail service, provider charges, and postage.
ERIC continues to expand in scope and impact, with five states—Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—having joined ERIC just this year, bringing the total number of members to 20 states plus the District of Columbia, with approximately 76 million eligible voters.
To date, ERIC states have identified nearly 4 million out-of-date voter records and more than 157,000 individuals who have died since they last voted. These states also have directed almost 700,000 new voters to register, most using online systems. According to a recent investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, these efforts have resulted in a steep reduction in returned mail ballots, provisional ballots, and costs.
Alexis Schuler is a senior director and Keara Castaldo is a senior associate for election initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts.