Secretary of State Denise Merrill proposes voting registrar reform

Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s Secretary of State, has proposed legislation to help reform the errors found with the voting registrar. The Government Administration and Election Committee (GAE) has recently approved Merrill’s proposed piece of legislation.

Part of Merrill’s plan includes the implementation of services from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC is a database that ensures accurate information available for voter registration. It pulls from records of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Death Master Index, and US Postal Services to keep the most up to date voting records. If there is an error in matching, then the state must reach out to the unmatched potential voter within 90 days.

The system stipulates that one in eight registration records are not accurate, and thus there is a great need for this program like this to be utilized. ERIC is able to identify over 12 million potential voters between those that use their services.

There are currently 12 members of ERIC: 11 states and the District of Columbia. The first 15 states to sign on are allowed to appoint a representative to the Board of Directors that oversees all of ERIC’s decisions. Connecticut’s Representative is Peggy Reeves, assistant to the Secretary for Elections

ERIC is funded through the Pew Charitable Trusts organization as well as mandated state dues. Depending on the size of the state, state governments will owe fees to this organization to fund the services provided. The average amount last year was $500,000, but there is also a one-time membership fee of $25,000 upon entry.

This is meant to be a way to increase efficiency of keeping records as well as save money for the states involved, as all services are collated into one. ERIC allows for less returned mail, fewer provisional ballots and shorter lines at the polls. Often, when there is an error in registration, ERIC is able to provide potential voters with access to the online enrollment in their state, which is typically available in both English and Spanish.

“I take very seriously my duty to safeguard the integrity of Connecticut’s voter registry,” said Merrill. “As a member of this first-of-its-kind interstate partnership, we are now able to compare our lists to those of other states and government agencies to identify Connecticut voters who may have moved or may have passed away in another state.  This is just one more tool to assist our local election officials in creating a more accurate voter registry.”

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