By James Brooks, Alaska Beacon
The state of Alaska will keep its membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit network that helps states keep track of registered voters and reduce fraud, an official at the Alaska Division of Elections confirmed Wednesday.
Eight Republican-led states have withdrawn from the multistate partnership, known as ERIC, since far-right groups and former President Donald Trump began attempting to discredit the group in 2022.
Earlier this year, Carol Beecher, the new director of the Alaska Division of Elections said during a legislative hearing that she was considering whether to withdraw Alaska from the group.
That would have been a major change in policy from former Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer and former division boss Gail Fenumiai.
On Wednesday, Tiffany Montemayor, public relations manager for the division, said the state will remain a member.
“ERIC is one tool, of many, that DOE uses to maintain the voter rolls and is particularly helpful in detecting if someone has also registered to vote in another participating state,” Montemayor said. “Until another tool is available that can provide the same or enhanced services, the division will continue to participate in ERIC.”
Alaska joined ERIC in 2016 at the urging of state legislators, who voted by a combined total of 56-3 to allow the state to share voter information with other states in order to catch people who had registered to vote in multiple states.
Among the “yes” votes were Meyer, then-senator Mike Dunleavy, and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, who later became Senate President and was the lead sponsor of the bill.
Until 2022, the ERIC network was a rare instance of bipartisan cooperation on elections issues, with both Republican and Democratic states and politicians advocating its use.
Alaska has been able to cancel the voter registrations of almost 16,000 people who have moved out of the state or died because of ERIC, according to data presented to the Legislature this year.
But in recent years, the network has been targeted by far-right Republicans who endorse Trump’s false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election.
Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, attempted to de-fund the state’s membership in the group with budget amendments in 2022 and this year, but both attempts were defeated.
Eastman’s attempt last year was tabled without a vote, a sign that it lacked support, but this year more lawmakers backed the effort. Nine other House Republicans and Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, supported Eastman’s proposal this year.
• James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. This article originally appeared online at alaskabeacon.com. Alaska Beacon, an affiliate of States Newsroom, is an independent, nonpartisan news organization focused on connecting Alaskans to their state government.