By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – Governor Bruce Rauner’s handpicked members of the State Board of Elections have voted to keep Illinois in the controversial Crosscheck System, a key priority of Donald Trump in the GOP’s stealth war against voters.
Despite calls from state and national legislators to withdraw from the program, the Illinois State Board of Elections voted recently to remain in the Interstate Crosscheck System, a national voter registration database that needlessly exposes personal information and could disenfranchise voters.
In response, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) plan to introduce legislation ending Illinois’ participation in the program.
“If the Board of Elections will not act to protect Illinois voters, then it is our duty as legislators to do so,” Raoul said. “The right to vote is sacred, and citizens in our state should know that their information is secure when they cast their ballot.”
VEHICLE FOR DISCRIMINATION
Many voting rights activists say Crosscheck, which was started by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the chair of the Trump administration’s election commission, is a vehicle for discrimination at the voting booth because it compares first and last names of state voter databases, ignoring middle names and designations like Jr. or Sr.
That is viewed as problematic by experts because communities of color – African-American, Latino, Asian – are more likely to share last names – for example Washington, Hernandez or Kim – making them easy targets for voter suppression.
Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, examined the system for Rolling Stone and said “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”
VOTER DATA AT RISK
There are also serious concerns with the security of the system.
At a joint hearing of the House Elections Committee and the Senate Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee last week, Shawn Davis, a faculty member at the Illinois Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education, testified that the Crosscheck System uses an unsecured network system. Most websites handling sensitive information use secure file transmission networks called SFTPs.
“The risk of exposing the personal information of millions of Illinois voters to an Equifax-style data breach is not worth the small benefit of remaining in the Crosscheck System,” Cunningham said. “This should not be a partisan issue — it is a data protection issue and it must be addressed immediately.”
The Illinois Board of Elections currently subscribes to two national voter database systems designed to help election authorities identify voters who may be registered in more than one state: Crosscheck and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
This legislation being introduced by Sens. Raoul and Cunningham would remove Illinois from the Crosscheck System but allow the state to remain in ERIC.