WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, May 18, the North Carolina Senate passed House Bill 259, the state’s 2023 budget that would fund government agencies. Included in the bill is a provision that would prohibit North Carolina from joining the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a data organization that allows states to share information to help maintain accurate voter rolls. While H.B. 259 already passed the House, it has to go back so the House may concur on Senate amendments.
If H.B. 259 becomes law — either with Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature or over his veto (last week, Cooper called the budget a “disaster”) — North Carolina would become the latest state to either leave or ban participation in ERIC. Starting in early 2022 right-wing conspiracy theories have targeted the organization, with Louisiana leaving ERIC in January of last year. Since then, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia all announced their exits from ERIC. The basis for the withdrawals vary, but they all rely on a combination of right-wing election conspiracies, vague concerns about privacy, dislike of the required outreach to eligible but unregistered voters, the presence of a “hyper-partisan” non-voting board member and assertions that ERIC does not do enough to identify voter fraud.