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Activists Vow to Continue Fight Against Voter Suppression

Governor’s Veto Yet Another Reminder: Elections Matter

Attention is now focused on the November elections and future legislation to secure elections and fight voter suppression, after Governor Rauner’s veto of SB 2273. The bill would have modified existing law to stop Illinois from sharing voter data with the Interstate Crosscheck system, which is riddled with security holes, according to research by Indivisible Chicago and others. As written, SB 2273 would have allowed Illinois to exclusively share voter data with either the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) or through one-on-one agreements with bordering states for the purpose of maintaining voter rolls as citizens move in or out of the state. 

In a press conference earlier this week, activists and legislators argued that the Russian hacking of Illinois’ voter database should highlight for the Governor the importance of election cybersecurity. However, Rauner’s veto reflects the same party-over-security decision that he has made in lockstep with GOP leaders at every step in the process.

“We’re disappointed, but not surprised. Like President Trump, Rauner prefers to ignore threats to voters’ personal data and to the security of our election process,” said Steve Held, one of the leaders of the Indivisible Chicago team fighting for data privacy protections and voter rights. “Priority number one is making sure that we have a new governor next year. Then we’ll have a partner to work with to make our voting laws even stronger.”

Held noted that the GOP’s original support for Crosscheck led to a positive outcome. “Had the State Board originally voted for Illinois to leave Crosscheck, we would have moved on to a new issue and never discovered all of the security vulnerabilities that forced Secretary Kobach to suspend the program this year”, he said.

Election officials claim they use Crosscheck as an additional source to maintain voter rolls; however, it has been plagued by a series of security vulnerabilities which has resulted in the suspension of the program while the Department of Homeland Security conducts a security audit following the release of voters’ private information. Crosscheck is managed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was chosen by President Trump as the vice chairman and spokesperson for his failed commission on voter fraud, and last spring was held in contempt by a federal judge for failing to notify thousands of Kansans in 2016 that they were registered to vote.

In recent months other states have quit 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 announced that they are abandoning the Crosscheck program.
  • Last month a federal judge blocked Indiana’s use of Crosscheck to purge voters.
  • The ACLU of Kansas is now suing Kansas for exposing nearly 1,000 Kansans voter data in its management of the Crosscheck program. 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.
  • Missouri, one of the original founding states in Crosscheck, along with South Carolina and Florida have announced that they are joining the ERIC program to maintain voter roll.
  • 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.

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.

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