Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has announced that Ohio is the latest Republican-led state to pull out of a national bipartisan voter registration initiative.

LaRose, a Republican who is actively considering running for U.S. Senate against U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in 2024, sent a letter to the executive director of the Electronic Registration Information Center, also known as ERIC, announcing the decision following the bipartisan compact’s member states meeting on Friday.

“ERIC has chosen repeatedly to ignore demands to embrace reforms that would bolster confidence in its performance, encourage growth in its membership, and ensure not only its present stability but also its durability. Rather, you have chosen to double-down on poor strategic decisions, which have only resulted in the transformation of a previously bipartisan organization to one that appears to favor only the interests of one political party,” LaRose said.

Republican and Democratic election officials established ERIC in 2012 to assist states in maintaining accurate voter rolls. Member states would submit voter registration data and driver’s license information to help identify voters who died, moved or had duplicate registrations.

Members are also required to mail registration materials to residents who have not yet registered to vote. Ohio first joined ERIC in 2016.

LaRose spokesperson Rob Nichols told The Ohio Star that Ohio didn’t, however, use ERIC for voter list maintenance.

“We maintain our database through the National Change of Address Database (NCOA) and through the supplemental, which is the county boards telling what registrations have been abandoned or people who have died,” Nichols told The Star.

LaRose has underlined the value of maintaining accurate voter rolls in order to combat fraud. But following the group’s meeting on Friday, LaRose said that Ohio would be leaving because it had not carried out the modifications he requested.

“I cannot justify the use of Ohio’s tax dollars for an organization that seems intent on rejecting meaningful accountability, publicly maligning my motives, and waging a relentless campaign of misinformation about this effort,” LaRose said.

LaRose previously signaled that Ohio would withdraw from ERIC if it’s leaders didn’t agree to certain modifications such as permitting member states to utilize ERIC’s data-sharing services “a la carte,” in the manner which they believe best serves their local interests and removing ex-officio membership positions from ERIC’s bylaws.

According to The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition the decision for Ohio to pull out of ERIC is disheartening.

“ERIC is the best system we have to ensure the security and accuracy of our voter registration lists,” The Ohio Voter Rights Coalition said.

Earlier this month, former President and current 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump weighed in on ERIC and called on all Republican-led states to “immediately pull out of ERIC, the terrible Voter Registration System that ‘pumps the rolls’ for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up.”

Since 2022 six Republican states have now either pulled out or announced an intention to pull out of the initiative. Earlier this month, Republican election officials from Florida, Missouri and West Virginia said they planned to withdraw from the group, joining Louisiana and Alabama.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Frank LaRose” by Georgebailey2015. CC BY-SA 4.0. Background Photo “Election Day 2022” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.