Right-wing conspiracy theorists are lodging a disturbing attack on software that actually does fight voter fraud: report

Right-wing conspiracy theorists are lodging a disturbing attack on software that actually does fight voter fraud: report
Staff Sgt. Zach Zenk, an avionics technician with the 115th Fighter Wing, processes absentee ballots at the Mount Horeb Public Library during the Aug. 11 election in Mount Horeb, Wis. Nearly 700 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard mobilized to serve as poll workers across 40 Wisconsin counties. Wisconsin National Guard photo by SMSgt. Larkin Wilde

Right-wing conspiracy theorists are now turning their attention toward undermining a critical software that actually does combat voter fraud: the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

A new report from NPR's Miles Parks explains how far-right conspiracy theorists are now attacking ERIC to substantiate their unfounded claims of voter fraud. " The far-right is now running a disinformation campaign against one of the best tools that states have to detect and prevent voter fraud," Parks wrote.

According to Parks, ERIC is "a shared database called the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC for short. It allows states to securely share voter registration data across state lines and with a number of other government agencies, like the Social Security Administration and departments of motor vehicles."

In addition to ERIC being a voter registration database, it also gives election officials the ability to keep track of voters registered in specific districts to help maintain voter roll accuracy.

David Becker, a current elections expert and former attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice who also contributed to the development of ERIC, explained how the software fights voter fraud.

"When you move away from a state, you don't call your old state and say, 'Please take me off the voter lists,'" said Becker. "So to get really strong data that someone moved to another state — got a driver's license there or maybe registered to vote — that's really powerful information that allows states to keep their data up to date."

Becker also expressed frustration in the far-right's dissent on ERIC. Although they are questioning election integrity, Becker argues that integrity is not what they really want.

"They don't care about actual integrity," Becker said. "They only care that their side wins. That is the most anti-democratic idea that I can imagine."

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), one of the Republican officials in support of former President Donald Trump, made it clear he is a supporter of ERIC. Amid the latest controversy, Merrill has voiced his frustration about the right-wing attacks on ERIC.

"It helps identify duplicate registrations," Merrill said. "It helps identify dual participation in elections. That's a concern [and] there's no other way that any state in the union can do that independently of ERIC."

So, what will happen if far-right conspiracy theorists succeed in discrediting ERIC? According to Becker, there will likely be adverse effects that will lead to the exact opposite of what they claim to want. "If a state leaves ERIC, what they're doing is cutting their nose to spite their face," Becker said. "They're handcuffing their ability to keep their lists accurate."


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