Topeka A little-known program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach goes through more than 100 million voter records from states across the nation.
Called Interstate Crosscheck, or "The Kansas Project," the program compares voter registration records from one state with 27 other participating states to check for duplicate voter registrations and possible double voting. The goal of the program is to clear up registration rolls, Kobach said.
Nearly all double registrations are unintentional, resulting from a person moving from one state to another and re-registering to vote, Kobach says.
But the computer program drills down further to try to find voters who may have voted in two separate states, he said. It's a program that Kobach's office provides for free.
"It's a state-run program that Kansas has developed and it's a service for the whole country," Kobach said.
The project has generated some controversy.
Earlier this month, Republican officials in North Carolina, a key battleground state, said the Interstate Crosscheck uncovered proof of widespread voter fraud. But after those initial reports, officials have walked back those assertions and were focusing on investigating a much smaller number of potential cases.
"They chose to make public the number of potential double voters," Kobach said of North Carolina officials.
Kobach said the number of potential double voters — those whose names and dates of birth match up in two states — is always much larger than "likely double voters," whose first and last names, dates of birth and last four digits of their Social Security numbers matched with a voter registered in another state.
But because of Kobach's partisan background, as former Kansas Republican Party chairman, and his push nationwide for photo ID laws to vote and proof of citizenship to register to vote, his work in this area has been suspect among some Democrats in other states.
But Kobach insists there is nothing partisan about this effort.
While most of the participating states are solid Republican or lean Republican, there are nine that are solid Democratic or lean Democratic.
"You hear Republican secretaries of state talking about the security of voter rolls probably more than Democrat secretaries of state, but they (Democratic secretaries of state) care about it just as much," he said.
While Kobach has increased the number of states in the program, in recent years at least two have dropped out: Florida and Oregon.
Florida officials say they would work on their own with other states to update registrations, and Oregon joined the Electronic Registration Information Center, a project started by the Pew Charitable Trusts that includes nine states.
The "Kansas Project" was started in 2007 by former Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh and also involved the states of Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.
Kobach said that when he took office in 2011 and learned about the program he thought it was great and should be applied nationally.
"I have taken it under my wing and want to build it as one of my personal missions," he said.
The participating states send copies of their voter rolls to the Kansas secretary of state's office. The rolls are compared with each other to produce a report of people who may have registered to vote in two states.
The results are sent to the states and the copies of the states' voter rolls are destroyed, Kobach said. "We don't feel we should be keeping copies of other states' voter rolls."
He said 20 such likely double voters were discovered in Kansas in 2012, and those incidents have been forwarded to the appropriate county officials for possible prosecution, he said. He said he believed some cases were being pursued.