Virginia Governor Vetoes Bill to Rejoin Voter Data Organization ERIC

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on March 8 vetoed a slate of bills passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, including a bill requiring the state to rejoin the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). In May of 2023, Youngkin withdrew Virginia from the nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to help states share resources and information to maintain accurate voter rolls. 

“ERIC’s reluctance to implement reforms and address a bipartisan working group of member states concerns reflects a departure from its core mission of improving voter roll accuracy, which called into question Virginia’s continued participation,” Youngkin wrote in a memo vetoing the bill. 

Since the 2020 election, ERIC has been a target of right-wing conspiracy theories about voter fraud, which led to at least 9 red states dropping their participation in the program. When it was created in 2012 by a bipartisan group of election officials from seven states, one of them was from Virginia, who helped create ERIC under the administration of then-Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. The group was formed as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization to help states maintain an accurate count of voter rolls in the country, with a majority of states signing on to help increase access to voter registration for eligible citizens. 

But a 2022 article from the right-wing blog the Gateway Pundit took aim at ERIC, claiming without evidence that the organization is funded by liberal billionaire George Soros and aims to remove Republican voters from the voter rolls in swing states. Since the article was published, nine Republican-led states have withdrawn from ERIC: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill on March 5 requiring the state to re-enroll in ERIC, but with Youngkin’s veto, the requirement won’t stand unless two-thirds of the Assembly vote to override the veto.

State Sen. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D), who introduced the bill, posted on X that Youngkin’s veto is “disappointing” and that the departure from ERIC makes Virginia elections “less secure.” For years, ERIC has been seen as a bipartisan success, with numerous GOP officials previously defending the program. But now it leaves a number of red states scrambling to find a suitable alternative.

“This is playing footsie w/ MAGA conspiracies,” VanWalkenburg said. “It’s bad governance and dangerous politics.”

Read Youngkin’s full veto memo here. 

Learn more about the GOP exodus from ERIC here.