Chicago Sun-Times Editorial: Illinois should be protecting voters, not undercutting them
At a time when everyone should be working to protect the integrity of our electoral system, Illinois may be an unwitting partner in throwing valid voters off the rolls.
On Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have pulled Illinois out of an inaccurate multistate voter registration crosscheck system. At a time when Illinois should be beefing up voting security, this takes us in the wrong direction.
The system, called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, is controversial because it has been used to keep valid voters out of the polling place. By matching up data, the system is supposed to show when a voter has moved from one state to another, so the older registration can be cancelled.
Because the system is error-prone, voters often are taken off the rolls simply because their information is similar to someone in another state. The ACLU of Kansas says Crosscheck has lax security and generates false matches a high percentage of the time.
By remaining in the system, Illinois will provide mounds of data that can lead to voter suppression in other states.
There’s no reason to stay in the system when there is a far more accurate alternative, the Electronic Registration Information Center, of which Illinois is also a member. Cook County Clerk David Orr, who supervises suburban elections, says ERIC does a far better job of protecting its data from hackers.
Rauner claimed in his veto message that leaving Crosscheck would “hamstring Illinois’ efforts to combat voter fraud.” But that makes no sense at a time when the founder of Crosscheck, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is being accused of unfairly stripping the right to vote from more than 35,000 people, and Crosscheck itself has halted operations as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigates concerns about security and accuracy.
Instead of helping to weaken America’s voting system, Illinois should be leading efforts to strengthen it.
On Thursday, Microsoft detected and helped block the first known cyber interference of the midterm elections — hacking attempts in three congressional races. That’s alarming at a time when Illinois has “significant election security vulnerabilities,” according to a recent report from the U.S. House Committee on Administration.
There’s little point in looking to Congress, which this week was busy overriding an amendment by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., to restore $380 million for election security. Shamefully, the entire Illinois Republican delegation voted against the amendment, leading U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., to say, “These attempted hacks are just the opening salvo … this Republican-controlled Congress has shown that it’s not serious about defending against this threat.”
Getting Illinois out of Crosscheck would be a step toward more accurate elections. We hope the state finds a way to do so soon.