Virginia has become the latest Republican-led state to withdraw from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) after right-wing media spread George Soros-linked conspiracy theories and other misinformation about the program.
On Thursday, Virginia’s Department of Elections Commissioner Susan Beals sent a letter to ERIC executive director Shane Hamlin formally resigning from the program, raising talking points from far-right disinfo similar to those parroted by other red states when leaving the system.
“With the recent departures of seven state members, we have reviewed the effectiveness of our continued participation with ERIC,” she wrote.
Beals’ cited several reasons for departing the program, like “increasing concerns regarding stewardship, maintenance, privacy, and confidentiality of voter information” and “controversy surrounding the historical sharing of data with outside organizations leveraged for political purposes.”
“In short, ERIC’s mandate has expanded beyond that of its initial intent,” Beals wrote, “to improve the accuracy of voter rolls.”
ERIC became the center of right-wing conspiracy theories after the far-right website Gateway Pundit published a series of blog posts accusing the program of being a liberal plot to control the democratic process back in January 2022. Among the website’s claims were that the program was run by liberal activists and funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
The program was actually founded in 2012 as a joint bipartisan effort between election officials in seven states, including Virginia, with the help of election law advocate David Becker. It was designed to give states a way to compare voter data across state lines since there’s no national voter database.
Virginia is the eighth state to leave the program and the first founding member to do so.
“We will pursue other information arrangements with our neighboring states and look to other opportunities to partner with states in an apolitical fashion,” Beals wrote.
Read the full letter below: