Activists Mobilize to Win Passage in House

Applaud Senate’s Quick Action to Secure Voter Data

Attention is focused now on the Illinois House, after today’s Senate approval of a bill to protect Illinois voter data by pulling the state out of the national Crosscheck program. The final vote on SB2273, drafted with the help of Indivisible Chicago broke down along party lines 35-17 with 3 Republicans abstaining. The bill will now head to the House where Representative Ann Williams will be the chief sponsor.

“This is fantastic news. It’s heartening to see our legislators move so quickly to protect voters’ privacy,” bsaid Steve Held, one of the leaders of the Indivisible Chicago team fighting for data privacy protections and voter rights. “It’s unfortunate to see partisanship impact this vote at a time when the vulnerability of our voter data and concerns about identity theft have never been clearer; however, we’re hopeful that we’ll see more bipartisan support in the House.”

Indivisible Chicago thanks the initial bill sponsors, Senators Kwame Raoul and Bill Cunningham, as well as those who have joined as co-sponsors, for moving so quickly on this issue.

The Senate approval comes against a backdrop of other states quitting the Crosscheck program. They’re responding to increasing evidence that Crosscheck leaves voters vulnerable to identity theft through the insecure handling of sensitive data. In just this past month:

  • Both Massachusetts and Kentucky have recently announced that they are abandoning the Crosscheck program.

  • Missouri, one of the original founding states in Crosscheck, announced that they are joining the ERIC program to maintain voter roll.

  • Florida election officials acknowledged that the personal data for nearly 1,000 Kansans was compromised as a result of their participation in the Crosscheck program, prompting Florida to offer to pay for LifeLock protection to all impacted Kansans. This data had been shared with a Kansas-based Voters Against Crosscheck as a result of a public records request and subsequently shared with Indivisible Chicago.

  • After months of assurances from Kansas Secretary of State Kobach and Director of Elections Bryan Caskey that Kansas’ systems were secure, Netragard, a security research firm found that the Kansas government’s network was “significantly exposed”, posing a risk to all Kansas systems, including the Crosscheck database.

  • Gizmodo reported the careless exposure of the last four digits of social security numbers for thousands of Kansas state employees, including 90% of Kansas legislators and Secretary Kobach himself.

Kansas Director of Elections Bryan Caskey recently stated that Crosscheck would again be operational sometime in February but hasn’t provided any details about planned changes to the programs security.

Pulling out of Crosscheck doesn’t mean Illinois will be ill equipped to manage voter data, according to Held.

“Illinois is in the much more secure national ERIC program, along with 22 others,” he said. “We have the necessary tools to maintain our voter rolls. Proponents for Crosscheck are simply pursuing a highly partisan agenda to perpetuate debunked myths about voter fraud and to further an agenda of voter suppression. It’s time to end this charade and get on with the serious business of protecting the integrity of our electoral process.”

Efforts to persuade the Illinois State Board of Elections to voluntarily pull data from Crosscheck have been unsuccessful, with a vote earlier this month breaking out along party lines, and all Republican members voting “no”. In an email to Indivisible Chicago after that SBE Board meeting, SBE Public Information Officer Matt Dietrich confirmed no voter data would be sent until any security changes are assessed and discussed in a public SBE Board meeting. The SBE’s next monthly Board meeting is scheduled for February 21.

Background

Crosscheck is a program created and operated by Kansas election officials. It collects voter registration information from participating states and “crosschecks” the data to find duplicate registrations. This program is the primary source for Kobach and Trump when citing “millions of illegal voters”. Yet, the program’s algorithm to identify illegal voters has been widely discredited and Kansas authorities who oversee the program have refused to take basic steps to improve the accuracy of the results. Therefore, Crosscheck generates intentionally-inflated statistics that exaggerate the instances of actual voter fraud by a factor of over 1,000.

Recent research by Indivisible Chicago has exposed numerous security flaws and raised questions about how the data is used. This includes:

  • Usernames and passwords to critical systems and encrypted files emailed in plain text;

  • A lack of encryption protocols for the server used to transmit and store 100 million voter records; and,

  • A misconfigured firewall protecting this voter data is misconfigured.

Illinois is among 28 states that shared personal information such as date of birth and partial social security numbers directly with Crosscheck in 2017, which puts voters at risk of identity theft. While the SBE has the authority to leave the Crosscheck program, a December vote on the question was defeated when all four Republican SBE Board Members voted to remain in the program. That’s when Indivisible Chicago intensified grassroots efforts to pass a state law to protect voter data from insecure, centralized databases such as Crosscheck.

Crosscheck is known to be misused by some participating states. Indiana currently faces multiple lawsuits alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) based on their over reliance on Crosscheck, because the system is widely known to be highly inaccurate. Indiana purges voters from the rolls without sending proper cancellation notifications based solely on Crosscheck matches. Indiana purged over one million voters from the rolls between 2014 and 2016 and has purged over 500,000 voters since the 2016 election.

Indivisible Chicago is leading the call for every state, including Illinois, to withdraw from Crosscheck both to protect sensitive data that can lead to identity theft and as a moral stand against voter suppression efforts. To learn more and to join this fight, visit https://endcrosscheck.com.

Illinois Bill Moving Forward To Pull Out of Controversial Crosscheck

Illinois Legislators Urged to Act Quickly to Secure Voter Files

State lawmakers have set a public hearing date for legislation to protect Illinois voter data by pulling state voter data out of the national Crosscheck program. The hearing on SB2273, crafted in partnership between Indivisible Chicago and state lawmakers, is scheduled for January 30, 1:30pm in Springfield.

“We urge legislators to move quickly to close this door to protect Illinois voters’ personal data. The news out of Kansas, responsible for protecting this sensitive data, gets worse on a weekly basis. It’s abundantly clear that the Kansas Secretary of State’s office lacks the will and the expertise to secure their systems”, said Steve Held, one of the leaders of the Indivisible Chicago team fighting voter suppression.

Indivisible Chicago has been at the forefront of national research that has revealed extensive flaws in the security measures that are supposed to protect personal data for millions of voters in Illinois and across the country. The activist organization is encouraging Illinois voters to call on lawmakers to protect their data by filing a witness proponent slip in support of this legislation. This can be done in just a few minutes, using this link and marking the slip as “proponent”: SB2273 Witness Slip.

Indivisible Chicago commends initial bill sponsors Senators Kwame Raoul and Bill Cunningham, as well as those who have joined, and is urging more legislators to sign on as co-sponsors to expedite passage of this bill.

The hearing is scheduled against a backdrop of increasing evidence that Crosscheck leaves voters vulnerable to identity theft through the insecure handling of sensitive data. In just this past month:

  • Florida election officials acknowledged that the personal data for nearly 1,000 Kansans was compromised as a result of their participation in the Crosscheck program, prompting Florida to offer to pay for LifeLock protection to all impacted Kansans. This data had been shared with a Kansas-based Voters Against Crosscheck as a result of a public records request and subsequently shared with Indivisible Chicago.
  • After months of assurances from Kansas Secretary of State Kobach and Director of Elections Bryan Caskey that Kansas’ systems were secure, Netragard, a security research firm found that the Kansas government’s network was “significantly exposed”, posing a risk to all Kansas systems, including the Crosscheck database.

  • Gizmodo reported the careless exposure of the last four digits of social security numbers for thousands of Kansas state employees, including 90% of Kansas legislators and Secretary Kobach himself.

Last week, Kansas Director of Elections Bryan Caskey stated that Crosscheck would again be operational sometime in February but hasn’t provided any details about planned changes to the programs security.

Pulling out of Crosscheck doesn’t mean Illinois will be ill equipped to manage voter data, according to Held.

“Illinois is in the much more secure national ERIC program, along with 22 others,” he said. “We have the necessary tools to maintain our voter rolls. Proponents for Crosscheck are simply pursuing a highly partisan agenda to perpetuate debunked myths about voter fraud and to further an agenda of voter suppression. It’s time to end this charade and get on with the serious business of protecting the integrity of our electoral process.”

Efforts to persuade the Illinois State Board of Elections to voluntarily pull data from Crosscheck have been unsuccessful, with a vote earlier this month breaking out along party lines, and all Republican members voting “no”. In an email to Indivisible Chicago after that SBE Board meeting, SBE Public Information Officer Matt Dietrich confirmed no voter data would be sent until any security changes are assessed and discussed in a public SBE Board meeting. The SBE’s next monthly Board meeting is scheduled for February 21.

Background

Crosscheck is a program created and operated by Kansas election officials. It collects voter registration information from participating states and “crosschecks” the data to find duplicate registrations. This program is the primary source for Kobach and Trump when citing “millions of illegal voters”. Yet, the program’s algorithm to identify illegal voters has been widely discredited and Kansas authorities who oversee the program have refused to take basic steps to improve the accuracy of the results. Therefore, Crosscheck generates intentionally-inflated statistics that exaggerate the instances of actual voter fraud by a factor of over 1,000.

Recent research by Indivisible Chicago has exposed numerous security flaws and raised questions about how the data is used. This includes:

  • Usernames and passwords to critical systems and encrypted files emailed in plain text;
  • A lack of encryption protocols for the server used to transmit and store 100 million voter records; and,

  • A misconfigured firewall protecting this voter data is misconfigured.

Illinois is among 27 states that share personal information such as date of birth and partial social security numbers directly with Crosscheck, which puts voters at risk of identity theft. While the SBE has the authority to leave the Crosscheck program, a December vote on the question was defeated when all four Republican SBE Board Members voted to remain in the program. That’s when Indivisible Chicago intensified grassroots efforts to pass a state law to protect voter data from insecure, centralized databases such as Crosscheck.

Crosscheck is known to be misused by some participating states. Indiana currently faces multiple lawsuits alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) based on their over reliance on Crosscheck, because the system is widely known to be highly inaccurate. Indiana purges voters from the rolls without sending proper cancellation notifications based solely on Crosscheck matches. Indiana purged over one million voters from the rolls between 2014 and 2016 and has purged over 500,000 voters since the 2016 election.

Indivisible Chicago is leading the call for every state, including Illinois, to withdraw from Crosscheck both to protect sensitive data that can lead to identity theft and as a moral stand against voter suppression efforts. To learn more and to join this fight, visit https://endcrosscheck.com.

Illinois Legislators Urged to Act Quickly to Secure Voter Files

National Crosscheck database struggles with data security, misses self-imposed deadline

Warning that vulnerabilities in the Interstate “Crosscheck” program are more extensive than election officials have admitted, voter rights activists at Indivisible Chicago are praising the Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE) for confirming that no voter data will be sent to the “Crosscheck” program in January as originally planned. The voter rights activists are urging the SBE to hold firm as the Kansas officials in charge of securing the national Crosscheck voter database continue to struggle with security fixes that will protect 100 million voters’ personal data.

In December, Kansas officials assured participating states that they would have the opportunity to review details about proposed security fixes by the end of the year, with a plan to discuss on January 4th. “As of this date, we have received no description of security enhancements from Crosscheck”, said Steve Sandvoss, the SBE’s Executive Director in a January 10 letter to State legislators. “We plan to review and discuss those proposed enhancements upon receipt and we will transmit no data to Crosscheck until security issues are addressed to our satisfaction.”

In an email to Indivisible Chicago after yesterday’s SBE Board meeting, SBE Public Information Officer Matt Dietrich confirmed no voter data would be sent until any security changes are assessed and discussed in a public SBE Board meeting. The SBE Board meets monthly.

“Our research exposes the risks to Illinois voters if their personal data is sent to Crosscheck before serious security breaches are repaired,” said Steve Held, one of the leaders of the Indivisible Chicago team fighting voter suppression. “This delay indicates administrators are incapable of fixing this flawed system. That’s why we’re calling on Illinois legislators to take advantage of this time to remove Illinois from the Crosscheck voter suppression system.”

A bill to do just that has been introduced by Senators Kwame Raoul and Bill Cunningham. Indivisible Chicago is urging more legislators to sign on to SB 2273 to expedite its passage.

Crosscheck is a program created and operated by Kansas election officials. It collects voter registration information from participating states and “crosschecks” the data to find duplicate registrations. This program is the primary source for Kobach and Trump when citing “millions of illegal voters”. Yet, the program’s algorithm to identify illegal voters has been widely discredited and Kansas authorities who oversee the program have refused to take basic steps to improve the accuracy of the results. Therefore, Crosscheck generates intentionally-inflated statistics that exaggerate the instances of actual voter fraud by a factor of over 1,000.

Recent research by Indivisible Chicago has exposed numerous security flaws and raised questions about how the data is used. This includes:

  • Usernames and passwords to critical systems and encrypted files emailed in plain text;
  • A lack of encryption protocols for the server used to transmit and store 100 million voter records; and,

  • A misconfigured firewall protecting this voter data is misconfigured.

Illinois is among 27 states that share personal information such as date of birth and partial social security numbers directly with Crosscheck, which puts voters at risk of identity theft. While the SBE has the authority to leave the Crosscheck program, a December vote on the question was defeated when all four Republican SBE Board Members voted to remain in the program. That’s when Indivisible Chicago intensified grassroots efforts to pass a state law to protect voter data from insecure, centralized databases such as Crosscheck.

Crosscheck is known to be misused by some participating states. Indiana currently faces multiple lawsuits alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) based on their over reliance on Crosscheck, because the system is widely known to be highly inaccurate. Indiana purges voters from the rolls without sending proper cancellation notifications based solely on Crosscheck matches. Indiana purged over one million voters from the rolls between 2014 and 2016 and has purged over 500,000 voters since the 2016 election.

Indivisible Chicago is leading the call for every state, including Illinois, to withdraw from Crosscheck both to protect sensitive data that can lead to identity theft and as a moral stand against voter suppression efforts.

Indivisible Chicago is working with activists across the nation to urge states to leave Crosscheck. To learn more and to join this fight, visit https://endcrosscheck.com.

Donald Trump Shut Down His Election Fraud Commission, But He Hasn’t Given up on Voter Suppression

President Donald Trump abruptly shut down his commission on election integrity on Wednesday evening. That’s the good news for voting rights advocates.

The bad news: the Administration is continuing its hunt for voter fraud, based on Trump’s false claim that “millions of people” voted illegally in 2016. Trump isn’t giving up on his quest to remove people from the voter rolls, the effort is just going underground. 

Press Release: Voter Rights Activists Remain Concerned About Trump Agenda

Trump expands Homeland Security reach after disbanding failed voter suppression commission

Leading voter rights activists at Indivisible Chicago are warning today of continued Trump administration voter suppression efforts. While President Trump yesterday disbanded his ill-conceived Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity (PACEI), he charged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with reviewing the Commission’s findings and recommending next steps.  

“This is a red flag for us,” said Steve Held, one of the leaders of the Indivisible Chicago team fighting voter suppression. “Under the jurisdiction of DHS, Trump can now shroud the whole voter suppression project in secrecy and take this investigation back into the dark.”

Media has widely reported that there is no credible evidence to backup claims of voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential election; instead, many suggest this investigation was started only because of Trump’s efforts to justify the fact that Democrat HIllary Clinton received a larger share of the popular vote, while Trump was elected on the basis of the Electoral College vote.  

Indivisible Chicago and other community-based voter activists claim it has been clear from the beginning that PACEI was a sham, intended to perpetuate baseless claims and to provide cover for new laws that further restrict access to the polls. While we are pleased to see PACEI disbanded, there are still several reasons for serious concern:

  • This morning President Trump’s tweets confirmed that from the beginning PACEI had a deeper objective to restrict voter access, as he immediately called for harsh new Voter ID laws while repeating false claims about the scale of voter fraud.
  • PACEI disbanded only after court rulings made it clear that they would not be allowed to operate in secret. The ruling does not apply to the Department of Homeland Security.

  • The affiliation with DHS indicates the potential for an outsized focus on identifying non-citizen voters, an issue frequently raised by the GOP, with few credible examples of this actually happening. So-called evidence presented by fringe right wing voter suppression groups like the Public Law Interest Foundation are found to be riddled with errors. Their work has led to voter disenfranchisement as U.S. citizens are incorrectly removed from voter rolls after their personal information was published online as a part of false accusations of illegal voting.  

While the DHS has been charged with investigating the abundant evidence that Russians influenced our elections, the President continues to put no priority on understanding what happened in the 2016 election or taking serious steps to prevent such interference in 2018. Instead, he is potentially drawing resources from that effort by insisting DHS devote more government resources to chasing phantom voter fraud.

STATES WARNED ABOUT ADDITIONAL THREAT TO VOTER DATA

The most often cited “evidence” of voter fraud derives from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck Program. Crosscheck is a program created and operated by Kansas election officials. It collects voter registration information from participating states and “crosschecks” the data to find duplicate registrations. This program is the primary source for Kobach and Trump when citing “millions of illegal voters”. Yet, the program’s algorithm to identify illegal voters has been widely discredited and Kansas authorities who oversee the program have refused to take basic steps to improve the accuracy of the results. Therefore, Crosscheck generates intentionally-inflated statistics that exaggerate the instances of actual voter fraud by a factor of over 1,000.

Recent research by Indivisible Chicago has exposed numerous security flaws and raised questions about how the data is used. This includes:

  • Usernames and passwords to critical systems and encrypted files emailed in plain text;
  • A lack of encryption protocols for the server used to transmit and store 100 million voter records; and,

  • A misconfigured firewall protecting this voter data is misconfigured.

Illinois is among 27 states that share personal information such as date of birth and partial social security numbers directly with Crosscheck, which puts voters at risk of identity theft.

Crosscheck is known to be misused by some participating states. Indiana currently faces multiple lawsuits alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) based on their over reliance on Crosscheck, because the system is widely known to be highly inaccurate. Indiana purges voters from the rolls without sending proper cancellation notifications based solely on Crosscheck matches. Indiana purged over one million voters from the rolls between 2014 and 2016 and has purged over 500,000 voters since the 2016 election.

While Trump disbanded PACEI because more than a dozen states have refused to turn over sensitive voter data, many are providing the same information to the insecure Crosscheck system. This, too, needs to be disbanded to further protect voter data.

Indivisible Chicago is leading the call for every state, including Illinois, to withdraw from Crosscheck both to protect sensitive data that can lead to voter theft and as a moral stand against voter suppression efforts.

Indivisible Chicago is working with activists across the nation to urge states to leave Crosscheck. To learn more and to join this fight, visit https://endcrosscheck.com.

Crosscheck Program Isn’t Right for New Hampshire

Crosscheck is often described either as a means to root out voter fraud or as a means to disenfranchise eligible voters by wrongly purging them from the voter rolls. But what is Crosscheck really?

Incomplete answer, it’s a program run by the state of Kansas that compares voter information from multiple states with the intention of identifying individuals who are registered in more than one state. A more complete answer is, it’s a flawed system that is prone to false positives and that comes at significant expense and privacy risk.