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PRESS RELEASE: Illinois Legislators Take Action to Protect Voters

Legislators and activists unite to protect voters’ data and rights

Illinois voters may yet get the protection they deserve, thanks to the leadership of Senator Kwame Raoul and Senator Cunningham in partnership with other state legislators and Indivisible Chicago who today proposed legislation to secure the use of private voter information.

The Illinois State 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). The legislation unveiled today, SB 2273, will remove Illinois from the Crosscheck system but will allow the state to remain in ERIC, widely regarded by state and local election authorities as the superior system - it is more accurate, more secure, and managed by a non-partisan board.

Crosscheck is program created and operated by Kansas election officials. It collects voter registration information from participating states and “crosschecks” the data to find duplicate registrations. Recent research by Indivisible Chicago has exposed numerous security flaws and raised questions about how the data is used. Usernames and passwords to critical systems and encrypted files have been emailed in plain text; the server used to transmit and store 100 million voter records does not implement any encryption protocols; and the firewall protecting this data is misconfigured. Illinois shares personal information such as date of birth and partial social security numbers directly with Crosscheck which puts Illinois 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, a system 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.

Despite these revelations, the State Board of Elections last week, in a party line vote, failed to pull Illinois from the controversial Crosscheck program. That prompted legislators to step forward with legislation to provide the protection voters need.  

Indivisible Chicago thanks our legislators for recognizing the seriousness of protecting Illinois voters’ data and the rights of voters outside of Illinois who have been disenfranchised as a result of the Crosscheck program. We look forward to continuing to work with our legislators to bring greater transparency and accountability to our electoral processes.