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While there is no evidence to support his voter fraud claims, President Trump is not wrong in suggesting that our voter registration systems could use an update.
Take Tiffany Trump, for example. Despite what she’s said publicly, President Trump’s youngest daughter is, in fact, registered to vote in both Pennsylvania and New York.
This likely happened because she registered when she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania. When she moved back to New York after graduating last May, she likely didn’t notify the Pennsylvania Board of Elections that she no longer lives there.
She’s not alone, though. Chances are the last time you moved across state lines, you didn’t notify your former Board of Elections either.
So, Donald Trump was probably right when he tweeted that many Americans are “registered to vote in two states.” That said, most of these people are probably just like Tiffany Trump: They have no intention to actually vote in more than one state, they just didn’t properly notify the Board of Elections.
To help cut down on double registrations like these, the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is partnering up with states to help them communicate about voter registration. The idea for ERIC was born out of the Pew Research Center’s conference called “Voting in America”:
“The overall consensus was that voter registration was out of date,” ERIC’s executive director John Lindback told Business Insider. “It’s the biggest problem with elections in the United States.”
ERIC was officially formed in 2012 with seven states: Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington. ERIC collects data from the states’ voter registration databases, DMV records, the Social Security Death Index, and changes in addresses from the U.S. Postal Service. They crosscheck names with the data collected from other states, and if they find potential duplicates, ERIC notifies the states, which can then contact the person directly and ask them to update their voter registration information.
Today, ERIC’s membership has grown to 20 states, as well as Washington D.C.
“Some states have use restrictions with their voter file, and, by their state law, really can’t participate in any matching system,” Michael McDonald, an associate professor at the University of Florida, told Business Insider. McDonald does admit, though, that states that can’t participate might be able to implement policies to allow for collaboration with crosschecking programs.
Despite not having every state involved in ERIC, Lindback is proud of the number of participating states. He said when it comes to elections, states are typically slow moving, citing online voter registration as an example (it has been an option for 15 years, and yet, only about 35 states have signed on).
And so, while President Trump’s continues to claim that he wants to fight voter fraud, there is little he can do from the federal level, as elections are typically handled by the states. Michael McDonald warned that while it might be helpful to have a national voter registry, it is something that would receive a fair amount of pushback from the states. Lindback agreed, saying they are not asking for the federal government support for ERIC, but perhaps the government should consider setting a deadline for states to join a crosschecking database.