Sec. of State Michael Adams plans to stay in multi-state voter registration partnership for another year

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams offered his thoughts on Wednesday regarding Kentucky’s continued participation in the multistate Electronic Registration Information Center partnership (ERIC).

“Among the many scandals in this office just prior to my term was my predecessor’s failure to properly maintain our voter rolls,” he said. “In 2019, I ran for Secretary of State, and won, on a promise to restore integrity and public confidence in this Office, and in Kentucky’s elections. Like all government records, voter rolls should be accurate. Dirty voter rolls create an avenue for election fraud, and they can contribute to longer lines at the polls.”

Michael Adams

He noted that in 2017, the conservative organization Judicial Watch sued then-Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, at U.S. District Court in Frankfort, for failure to follow the law in keeping our rolls accurate. The parties ultimately reached a settlement that required, among other things, that Kentucky step up its compliance efforts, and one way it did so was to join the multistate partnership Electronic Registration Information Center in 2019.”

Adams described ERIC as a bipartisan organization of chief election officials in various states, which assists member states in procuring federal data like National Change of Address, and in sharing states’ data among each other. ERIC is funded by participating states, not by private individuals, and he says until last year was non-controversial, which allowed him to purge from the rolls some 330,000 voters who have moved away, passed away or been put away, since he took office.

“Unfortunately, like any effort at bipartisanship in recent history, it has come under attack,” he said. “I have consistently defended ERIC against falsehoods about its funding and operations, even risking my re-nomination for this Office to do so. ERIC has helped Kentucky comply with the law and conduct fair elections. While my administration will never cave to conspiracy theorists, it nevertheless is true that the value of ERIC to us going forward is a debatable question.”

Adams points out seven states, roughly a quarter of ERIC’s membership, have recently announced their intention to leave, or already have done so. “This is problematic for us in two ways: one, it will cause our annual dues to spike; two, with these departures, only one of our neighboring states will remain a member of ERIC.”

He notes that the federal court case is a major factor in Kentucky remaining with ERIC.

“I have asked the presiding judge over Judicial Watch v. Grimes to clarify whether we are obligated to remain in ERIC. I will not withdraw Kentucky from ERIC if the Court does not permit it.”

Leaving ERIC without a replacement is a non-starter, according to Adams.

“Kentucky will remain in ERIC for one more year, unless it disbands before then. In that time, I will consult with other secretaries of state, review possible alternatives to ERIC, and determine whether statutory changes would be necessary to adopt such alternatives.”

He adds he will work with officials of both parties, in Kentucky and federally, and the 2024 General Assembly, if he is re-elected, to come up with a plan.

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