Members of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) benefit from more accurate and complete voter rolls and increased confidence in the list-management process. And some states are beginning to document financial advantages. Because ERIC offsets some list-maintenance costs, reducing returned mail and promoting the use of online voter registration, member states can expect immediate as well as long-term cost savings—particularly at the county level.
Minnesota recently reported that participating in ERIC would save the state over $7,500 a year for list-maintenance services it would otherwise pay for separately, such as processing data from National Change of Address and Social Security death records. In addition, information from ERIC allows officials to target eligible but unregistered voters and encourage them to register via the state’s online system, which saves counties money compared with paper transactions. According to Gary Poser, director of elections in Minnesota, “We believe that the average Minnesota county can save around 75 cents to $1 processing an electronic record versus a paper record. Obviously costs vary from region to region, but even at 75 cents per record, Minnesota’s counties have saved approximately $116,250 since it joined ERIC in August 2014.”
Because the state permits registration on Election Day, officials in Minnesota are optimistic that it would realize further cost savings if ERIC could encourage more voters to register early, reducing the number of same-day transactions.
Other ERIC states are enjoying distinct financial benefits as well. In Washington—an all vote-by-mail state—King County recently reported that data from ERIC led to more accurate voter rolls and a drop in returned ballots.
Although participation in ERIC requires annual dues, these long-term efficiencies can help create sustainable, cost-effective practices for list maintenance and voter outreach at the state and county levels.