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What is Crosscheck?

The Interstate Crosscheck system takes voter registration data submitted from 28 participating states to analyze and determine if there are matches of people on registration rolls in different states.  The program’s stated purpose is to identify voters who are registered in multiple member states.

How did Crosscheck start?

The Interstate Crosscheck system was started in 2005 by the Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh. It started as a partnership between Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa to share voter registration information to improve voter election administration (http://www.kssos.org/other/news_releases/PR_2005/PR_121305.html). When Kris Kobach took over as Kansas Secretary of State he grew the membership of the program from three states to twenty-eight states and expanded the focus to try to identify instances of voter fraud, where a person may vote twice in different states.

How is Crosscheck related to the Voter Integrity Commission?

Both are run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

What is Kris Kobach’s history with voter suppression?

Kris Kobach is the current Kansas Secretary of State.  Kobach manages the Interstate Crosscheck program and serves as Vice President of the Presidential Commission on "Election Integrity".

Kobach is an extreme Republican nationalist and Trump supporter, who promotes voter suppression efforts, a radical racist immigration agenda, and brazenly supports Trump's debunked claims that he lost the popular vote due to three million illegal voters.  He is Vice Chairman of the Presidential Commission for Election Integrity, was educated at Oxford, and he has been actively working to take away YOUR right to vote for over a decade.

Kobach has a long history of illegal voter suppression tactics and condoning discriminatory law enforcement practices.

Kobach was the primary architect of NSEERS, the original “Muslim registry” created during the Bush Administration. A federal judge has ruled that Kris Kobach has been operating with “deceptive conduct and a lack of candor” before the court in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU which subsequently led to Mr. Kobach being fined.

Why should I be concerned about Crosscheck?

By continuing participation in this program, Illinois is collaborating with Kobach to perpetuate the lie that millions of votes were cast illegally in 2016 and props up a program designed to disenfranchise voters, primarily people of color, in neighboring states. "One Person, One Vote", a statistical analysis of the program published early this year by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Penn, and Microsoft found that the criteria Crosscheck used to find matches creates a disproportionate percentage of false positives: “Out of the 240,000 paired registrations that Crosscheck sent to Iowa, there were only six cases where it appeared that the same person registered and voted in two different states.  In other words, OVER 99 percent of the matches sent to Iowa were unlikely to have anything to do with attempted voter fraud.”

Crosscheck also disproportionately affects people of color.  A database expert (hired to investigate by Rolling Stone) found the system flagged 1-in-6 Latinos, 1-in-7 Asian Americans and 1-in-9 African Americans as potential double registrants." http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

Specific examples are cited from states such as Virginia and Idaho where Crosscheck data was used by the State Board of Elections in Virginia and in Ada County Idaho to PURGE legal voters from the voting rolls. Florida and Oregon withdrew from the program with the Oregon Secretary of State commenting that “the data we received was unreliable.”

While Kobach claims voter fraud is widespread, in the past 7 years he has successfully identified and prosecuted 9 people for such voter fraud (https://www.kssos.org/other/news_releases/PR_2017/NR_2017_5_3.pdf ).

Lastly, the system is incredibly insecure. Participating states email usernames and passwords to sensitive systems and voter registration files and the encryption they use to send emails and files is unencrypted. See the emails obtained from our Freedom of Information Act request that go into more detail.

Why is Crosscheck considered a partisan issue?

In an ideal world, it shouldn’t be. While Crosscheck was founded to share voter registration data to facilitate efficiencies and accuracy in voter rolls, an important non-partisan issue, it is highly dependent on proper security measures and an independent managing body (see ERIC below). However, Crosscheck has many security flaws in the sending and storage of data and does not have any protections to ensure valid voter registrations aren’t purged in error.  In addition, Republicans are generally against processes that undermine data privacy security and should in theory be against Crosscheck given the major security flaws yet support for Crosscheck continues to fall along party lines.

How does IL participate Crosscheck?

Since 2011, the Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE) has annually sent over 8m voter registration records, including name, address, date of birth and the last 4 digits of social security numbers, to the Interstate Crosscheck System. The most recent transfer of over 8m voter registration records to Crosscheck was March 2017. Hundreds of thousands of records are returned to Illinois each year as potential matches with voters in other states, based solely on name and date of birth.

How is the data provided to Crosscheck?

All participating states send their entire voter roll through an FTP server hosted by the Arkansas Secretary of State. Kansas then logs in to the server, downloads all of the files, and then (allegedly) deletes all of the files sent by other states. Kansas then runs their analysis and uploads state-specific results files to the same FTP server. The voter registration files were encrypted; however, passwords to the FTP server, to the voter registration files, and to the Crosscheck results files are all sent between states via unencrypted email. See the emails obtained from our Freedom of Information Act request that go into more detail.

What are the potential security flaws?

First, everyone knows not to send passwords via email. That twenty-eight states have sent passwords to our voter information and the data-transfer server over unencrypted email for years is shocking.

In the Crosscheck documentation, they refer to a "secure FTP" server. It turns out this server isn't so secure after all. We've discovered that in fact, this serer does not run SFTP or FTPS, two common methods of security and encrypting traffic to the server. The Arkansas server is a basic FTP server, running no encryption protocol whatsoever! See the emails obtained from our Freedom of Information Act request that go into more detail.

Our discovery of these security flaws and concerns about Crosscheck have been reported on by ProPublica, Mother Jones, ThinkProgress, the Sun-Times, CyberScoop, CapitolFax, the Sun-Times (again), and WBEZ morning shift interviews Jessica Huseman (ProPublica).

Also This American Life spoke with Sharad Goel, one of the academics behind "One Person, One Vote" cited above, about Crosscheck and the prevalence (or near non-existence) of voter fraud.

What is done with the results of Crosscheck?

While states aren’t required to act upon the results generated by Crosscheck, some states have gone ahead and taken action based on Crosscheck reports. For example, some states “improperly interpret a Crosscheck ‘match’ to be a request by the registrant to be immediately removed from the rolls.” Given the high number of false positives, these actions have often resulted in the unlawful purging of eligible voters from the voting rolls. Moreover, some states may not be outright purging voters, but instead, wrongfully designating eligible voters as “inactive” based on Crosscheck’s faulty results, a designation which may lead to negative consequences and may lead to purging. For example, such voters may be deprived of a mail-ballot application in states where mail-ballots are not sent to voters on the “inactive” list. http://b.3cdn.net/advancement/1d6cccf4b34b9645da_hdm6i29rp.pdf

What is ERIC?

A 2012 report by the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts found that 24 million (one out of eight) voter registrations in the country are invalid or inaccurate. In response, Pew Charitable Trusts, in partnership with a number of states, created the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which features a robust data collection and analysis system with a very high rate of accuracy. It allows states to efficiently remove ineligible voters from their rolls yet also identify and engage the estimated 51 million eligible Americans who aren’t registered to vote. Illinois passed a law mandating that the state be a participant in the ERIC system.  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/11/a-partisan-strategy-of-voter-suppression.html

Why is ERIC better?

ERIC is a much more reliable and secure system that is not aligned with a partisan agenda.  Initiated as a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, ERIC is an independent, nonprofit organization owned, managed,
and controlled by the participating states themselves. Each state masks any identifying information, then transmits to the ERIC data center where the data is masked again upon receipt.

In addition to matching data between states, ERIC matches more “data points” than Name and DOB, including the Last Four SSN, Mailing Address, and other data already linked through state motor vehicle agencies, thus increasing the accuracy of matches. ERIC matches a state’s data against other databases, including, the Social Security Administration master death index list, motor vehicle licensing agency data, and U.S. Postal Service data again making the matches more accurate.

ERIC also requires states to inform voters of inaccurate information as well as contact unregistered, eligible voters to educate them on registering thus reducing the potential of voter suppression.  

State election officials with experience using both ERIC and Crosscheck cite significant differences in the reliability of data. “We’re much more confident in that data from ERIC because the program uses very sophisticated matching criteria,” said Edgardo Cortés, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections. “With Crosscheck we end up having to do a lot of additional internal analysis to narrow down the field because the initial match is a fairly broad. It’s a pretty substantial amount that we’re able to identify...as very unlikely matches.” http://b.3cdn.net/advancement/1d6cccf4b34b9645da_hdm6i29rp.pdf

How can I help?

Go to our action page to see our latest call to action to help us #EndCrosscheck!