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Alabama decides on whether to stay in voter registration partnership

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Alabama is withdrawing from a voter registration partnership involving thirty two states. New Secretary of State Wes Allen sent a letter to the Electronic Registration Information Center state that Alabama was leaving, Allen cited concerns over privacy. He says he was troubled at the idea of providing people's information to the organization. The partnership is designed to maintain accurate voter rolls but has become the target of conservative ire and conspiracy theories. Allen made a promise during his campaign to withdraw from group known as “ERIC.” He announced the decision one day after being sworn into office.

The database was created as a tool to maintain accurate voter rolls and combat fraud by allowing states to know when someone moves, dies or registers elsewhere, but has sometimes been targeted by critics. In November, former Secretary of State John Merrill criticized Allen's intent to withdraw. He said then that “ERIC” provides information that Alabama couldn't otherwise access. The list includes other states' voter registration and motorist driver's license records. Merrill says it’s been a crucial tool for maintaining voting rolls. The issue of participation in ERIC was raised in at least one other state. The Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state said during the campaign that he would withdraw from ERIC if elected, but he lost. Louisiana withdrew earlier this year.

However, another Republican campaigned on joining the partnership. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, proudly noted in stump speeches that the state had joined ERIC. Raffensperger said in 2019 that it would be a tremendous step forward for the integrity of Georgia's voter rolls.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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