Donald Trump is on to his next big, white, election-engineering whale.
The former president and his far-right associates have moved on from targeting Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic and are now attempting to harpoon a system meant to detect and prevent voter fraud, the Electronic Registration Information Center, better known as ERIC.
So far this year, Trump has baselessly claimed that the voting accuracy system is a “terrible Voter Registration System that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up,” and has openly speculated how he might make the system “illegal” across the country should he regain the White House, reports Rolling Stone.
Making a political hooplah out of a system designed by a nonpartisan group in 2012 holds a bounty of possibilities for Trump in 2024, including seeding more chaos in the aftermath of Election Day than he did in 2020.
Trump and his allies’ efforts to discredit the system include attempting to get a swath of GOP-led states to depart from the platform. Louisiana led the bunch, removing itself from ERIC in 2022. Since then, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia have done so too—dropping its membership to 25 states plus Washington, D.C.—though more resignations are anticipated, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
ERIC, in truth, is nothing short of a software engineering marvel that allows states to compare their voter rolls against other states’. Operated by a staff of three with no philanthropic funding, ERIC provides election officials with reports on potential inaccuracies in voter lists and identifies people who are registered to vote in more than one state, or inaccurately registered multiple times in a single state, from data collected from state records like change of address records, DMV data, and Social Security Administration death records.
If we lived in a world where Trump was motivated by more than an unimpeded ascent to power, you might be fooled into thinking that this is exactly the kind of system he cried out for after losing the last election. Without it, experts say that voting systems in those states are “likely to be significantly less accurate” and have the potential to “fuel false claims of potential voter fraud.”
“Faulty voter files create long lines on Election Day, delays in getting mail-in ballots, an increase in provisional ballots, and delays in determining a winner,” ERIC co-founder David Becker, who resigned from his role as executive director of the program following a right-wing pressure campaign, told Rolling Stone.
“The bigger potential damage here is that election losers—people who have lost an election or perceive themselves to be about to lose an election—will have more time and more space to create false narratives about an election being stolen,” Becker added. “The more problems at the polls, the more lines, the more provisional ballots, the longer it takes to count overall ballots and get an unofficial winner, those all feed into the potential for chaos and even incitement to violence by election losers.”