David Becker, an election law advocate who helped create the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), is vacating his position on its board as a flurry of far-right conspiracy theories about the voter roll maintenance program prompted a handful of red states to withdraw from its services.
“Today, I informed [ERIC] that I will not accept renomination as a non-voting member of the board when my term expires this week,” he announced in a tweet on Tuesday. “I remain very proud of leading the effort to create ERIC, and supporting its expansion to over half the states in a decade.”
ERIC is a non-partisan program used by over 30 states to help clean up voter rolls since there is no national voter database. It’s recently become the target of election deniers and far-right conspiracy theorists who are pushing the false narrative that it’s run and funded by liberals—including Becker and, the far-right’s favorite bogeyman billionaire philanthropist, George Soros.
Becker said these right-wing attacks are the reason he’s decided to leave the board. “Unfortunately, attacks fueled by disinformation by those who want our democracy to fail, have led to some states, all R-led, to diminish their own ability to maintain election integrity,” he wrote.
Over the past year, the far-right media outlet Gateway Pundit has published blog posts accusing ERIC of being run by left-leaning partisans like Becker and bankrolled by Soros. In truth, ERIC was a bipartisan effort founded in 2012 by seven states with Becker’s help, and Soros has never directly donated to the program.
Becker himself currently only contributes to ERIC as a non-voting, ex-officio board member.
Several Republican-led states have since withdrawn from ERIC due to the spread of these conspiracy theories by election deniers and the right-wing media. Louisiana dropped out last year, while Alabama joined in withdrawing this past January. Florida, Missouri and West Virginia all withdrew last week, with Florida protesting its “blatant partisanship” after the program rejected the state’s proposals for reform—which were, unsurprisingly, rooted in the conspiracy theories. Texas and Alaska are reportedly considering similar moves.
Despite this, Becker pressed that the program is a “bipartisan success,” and shared an open letter recently put out by 26 Republicans and conservatives in support of the program.
“The states that remain in ERIC have bravely fought back against disinformation and election denial,” he said, “and my hope is that they will continue to do so, and support their local election officials who rely upon the ERIC data, as we head into 2024.”
ERIC’s executive director Shane Hamlin even published an open letter earlier this month to address the recent uptick in conspiracy theories about the program and “set the record straight”: “We are a member-run, member-driven organization,” he wrote. “State election officials—our members—govern ERIC and fund our day-to-day operations through payment of annual dues, which they set for themselves.”