Here’s the Greg Palast article in Rolling Stone on the voter purge plan devised by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
It seems reasonable, on the surface. It’s called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Twenty-eight states, including Arkansas, share voter lists to ferret out people registered in more than one state who have voted in more than one state. Seems simple. Maybe even worthwhile. In practice, it’s terrible.
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To make sure the system finds suspect voters, Crosscheck supposedly matches first, middle and last name, plus birth date, and provides the last four digits of a Social Security number for additional verification.
In reality, however, there have been signs that the program doesn’t operate as advertised. Some states have dropped out of Crosscheck, citing problems with its methodology, as Oregon’s secretary of state recently explained: “We left [Crosscheck] because the data we received was unreliable.”
In our effort to report on the program, we contacted every state for their Crosscheck list. But because voting twice is a felony, state after state told us their lists of suspects were part of a criminal investigation and, as such, confidential. Then we got a break. A clerk in Virginia sent us its Crosscheck list of suspects, which a letter from the state later said was done “in error.”
The Virginia list was a revelation. In all, 342,556 names were listed as apparently registered to vote in both Virginia and another state as of January 2014. Thirteen percent of the people on the Crosscheck list, already flagged as inactive voters, were almost immediately removed, meaning a stunning 41,637 names were “canceled” from voter rolls, most of them just before Election Day.
We were able to obtain more lists – Georgia and Washington state, the total number of voters adding up to more than 1 million matches – and Crosscheck’s results seemed at best deeply flawed. We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.
And those promised birth dates and Social Security numbers? The Crosscheck instruction manual says that “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match” – which leaves a crucial step in the identification process up to the states. Social Security numbers weren’t even included in the state lists we obtained.
Because of the repetition of names in certain communities, the system is biased against Asians and blacks, says Palast. Said one database expert:
“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.”
Millions have been identified in the cross-check but virtually no proven examples of double voting have been found. Kobach’s organization claims four nationwide. That’s of scant cheer to those disqualified from voting, even when their name wasn’t an exact match.
According to the organization’s website, it identified more than 60,000 potentially double-registered voters in a 2012 check in Arkansas of some 1.5 million registered voters. It’s unclear how that information was put to use. Arkansas, by the way, serves as computer host for the data swapping.
I’ve asked Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office what the results have been, with a particular eye toward resulting disqualification of voters.
This is a followup of reporting Palast did in 2014. Then, in checking the purge lists:
What we found is that Crosscheck is simply a list of common first and last names. And the list is a sloppy, absurd mess. Over a million and half of these alleged double voters have mis-matched middle names. Social security numbers are rare – and all mismatches ignored.