Benson joins other states in voter file online system; fulfills a campaign promise

    Benson joins other states in voter file online system; fulfills a campaign promise. (Sinclair Broadcast Group/File)

    Michigan is joining the pack – at least 24 other states in the country – to use an online voter registration tracking system in an attempt to cut down on costs.

    Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Wednesday the state will be joining the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC.

    The national database launched in 2012 and allows states to keep track of which state voters live and in turn, cut costs accrued after states send information to wrong addresses to try and reach voters.

    “It’s hard to quantify exactly how much we will save,” Benson said after the announcement, “but we won’t be spending money sending information to people at the wrong address.”

    Joining ERIC comes at a $24,000 price tag, Benson said, and annual fees will not exceed $20,000. She said the Secretary of State will use federal money for the membership, not Michigan taxpayer dollars.

    Benson said Michigan will now get regular updates from the Social Security Administration, U.S. Postal Service and others to ensure the voter role is accurate. Working with the member states, ERIC provides information regarding duplicated registrations, red flag dead voters, voters who move and are eligible voters not yet registered.

    During the 2018 campaign, Benson made election security a focal point and joining ERIC, she said, is a first step.

    “In November, Michigan voters made it clear. Like me, they believe it should be easier to vote and harder to cheat. We are taking the first step toward achieving that goal by ensuring the accuracy of our voter registration file,” Benson explained.

    The online database uses encrypted voter information to ensure security. According to the Benson’s office, ERIC identified nearly 10 million out-of-date voter records for its members between 2013 and 2017. Michigan does not have a system in place currently to verify the accuracy of its voter file against those of other states.

    Benson said she will be traveling to meet with ERIC’s board of directors in February and the state should be fully enrolled in time for the upcoming May election.

    ERIC members include: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin; along with the District of Columbia.

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