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Ky. Secretary of State to stay in voter information partnership while pursuing alternatives

 Michael Adams stands at lectern smiling on election night 2019.
Kyeland Jackson
/
LPM
Michael Adams on election night 2019.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams plans to continue the state’s partnership with ERIC, a multi-state voter information exchange used to combat voter fraud and clean voter rolls.

Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, has drawn fire from some conservative conspiracy theorists who falsely argue that the system helps Democrats win elections and is bankrolled by billionaire George Soros.

In a statement, Adams said the state would remain in agreement with ERIC for one more year while he considers alternatives.

“Prior to last year, ERIC was not controversial. Unfortunately, like any effort at bipartisanship in recent history, it has come under attack,” Adams 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.”

ERIC is a bipartisan partnership of election officials from several states that helps decrease the chances of voter fraud by improving the accuracy of voter rolls through the collection of state and federal data. Kentucky joined in 2019 as part of a court order for the state to clean its voter rolls. Amid growing fervor from conservatives, roughly a quarter of ERIC’s members have already or are planning to leave, including all but one neighboring state. Adams said due to those departures, Kentucky will be paying more money annually but getting less interstate information. But he said the state can’t just pull out of the partnership without an viable alternative.

“I think it's not responsible for us just to pull out of this thing," Adams said. "Even with the dues going up and even if we lose some neighboring states in it. It’s just irresponsible for us to just quit and not have a ‘Plan B’ in place.”

Secretary Adams said he is currently consulting a federal judge to determine if Kentucky can leave the partnership and will work with the Department of Justice to determine available alternatives if that scenario should arise.

Adams won the Republican nomination to seek a second term as Kentucky’s secretary of state in May, defeating two candidates who vowed to end the state’s partnership with ERIC.

He’ll face former northern Kentucky Democratic Rep. Buddy Wheatley in this year’s general election.
Copyright 2023 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

Jacob Martin