Opinion: Stop funding flawed voter verification

December 9, 2017


Next month the 2018 Kansas Legislature begins its annual session. It will face a host of major issues, starting with school finance and including constructing a new prison, funding KPERS and addressing the endemic secrecy within state government, comprehensively documented by the Kansas City Star.

Last year our lawmakers demonstrated that they could address numerous issues, even as they passed major tax legislation over a gubernatorial veto. Give this record, the Legislature has an obligation to act decisively on one small, but not minor, issue: Kansas’s deeply flawed Crosscheck voter verification program, which 30 states continue to use.

The Legislature should stop all funding for Crosscheck, which ostensibly addresses the alleged problem of multiple voter registrations in two or more states.

Begun in 2005 at the urging of then-state GOP chair and later Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Crosscheck claims to root out potential voter fraud by comparing registration records across 30 states. There is a separate program, established in 2012, called ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center), funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which includes 20 states and the District of Columbia.

Although it may seem simple to validate duplications in registrations and possible double voting, in practice myriad problems have arisen as these systems deal with huge data bases from many states, each with their own rules. ERIC’s great advantage lies in its data security and careful culling of false positive registrations.

Crosscheck raises numerous questions; most fundamental is its core assumption that multiple registrations and double voting are commonplace in American electoral politics. Kobach and others continue to complain that this is the case — or may well be — even as study after study debunks the existence of such a problem. Indeed, in his role as co-chair of a national voting commission, Kobach anticipates expanding Crosscheck to all 50 states.

Crosscheck advocates argue that it has discovered as many as 3 million voters who have the same name and birthdate and are registered in two or more states. Such a finding must mean that there is a tremendous potential for fraud, right?

Not really. Solid, sophisticated studies have demonstrated the statistical basis for having 3 million registration duplications. Without going into excruciating detail, consider the fact that in any group of 23 individuals, there is an even chance that two will have the same birthday. Now think of 150 million voters, and all the combinations of apparently identical names with the same birthdates. Probability dictates that many, many of these individuals will have the same names and birthdates.

Add in sloppy record-keeping and administrative errors, and almost all the 3 million duplications can be accounted for. Moreover, large numbers of actual double registrations should lead to numerous prosecutions, especially with an aggressive prosecutor like Kobach. But there have been only a handful. This means that 30 states keep propping up a system that has accomplished little save to further Kobach’s relentless voter suppression agenda, with the states bearing the costs of all the errors. And now, with a national commission, Kobach wants to compound these mistakes.

Kansas, Crosscheck’s originator and prime funder, can proceed in one of two ways. First, it can simply stop paying for Crosscheck and withdraw its participation, which might topple the system completely. Or legislators can choose ERIC, with its superior security, to address double registrations.

Again, this is not the state’s most pressing problem, but Crosscheck wastes our resources and those of 30 other states with no offsetting benefits. In short, a coalition of sensible lawmakers should defund Crosscheck and, if desired, join ERIC, post haste.

— Burdett Loomis is an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Kansas.


Richard Heckler 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Through ALEC, Global Corporations Are Scheming to Rewrite YOUR Rights and Boost THEIR Revenue


Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights.

These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.

In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?

Numerous resources to help us expose ALEC are provided below:

-- https://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

= FRONTLINE - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/view/

= THE NATION - http://www.thenation.com/

= Democracy NOW - http://www.democracynow.org/

= IN THESE TIMES - http://www.inthesetimes.com/

Richard Heckler 6 months, 2 weeks ago

How many VOTERS have been purged from the voting rolls?


Check your status frequently.

Voters PROTECT Your Right To Vote = ORGANIZING A VOTING DAY PACKET to include:

--- a drivers license or state ID card

--- Military Discharge Papers

--- Keep this packet close to protect your right to vote

Do it today in case it is discovered one or more of the above cannot be found. None of these are difficult to replace. But will take time. Some believe voter suppression is effective. https://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

ALEC conservatives are keeping American focused on immigrants voting illegally however there are not enough illegal immigrants registered to vote much less participate in the voting process to impact an election. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/koch-brothers-candidate-training-recruiting-aegis-strategic

So democrats and moderate republicans are the real targets of this endeavor because these two factions can impact an election http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures#Voter

Josh Berg 6 months, 2 weeks ago

And this is the type of garbage they are teaching the kids at KU. Come in a son or daughter of a Kansas farmer and graduate a full blown communist. It pains me to see this trend and KU continue and Loomis should be kicked out.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Those are stiff allegations, Josh, and I don't see anything to back up your charges of communism recruiting from an internationally respected expert on our political system. How does Loomis' preference for a registration system with much more secure safeguards run by a non-profit instead of an insecure system run by a highly partisan politician that uses public money for funding not a valid perspective? Public funding of this seems closer to communism than a well respected non-profit with a long record of peer reviewed research that is universally respected.

Either come up with some valid criticism or take off your boots in the mud room because that's what ranchers do after they've been out feeding the heifers.

Josh Berg 6 months, 1 week ago

I really do not see the need to prove myself to you Ken.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 1 week ago

I don't see the need, either, Josh. It's your argument that is lacking, not you.

Josh Berg 6 months, 1 week ago

And if you really want proof then read some of the local curriculum's and take some classes at KU. If you do not think like a leftist and socialist then you are singled out by teachers. They inflict their leftists policies on a daily basis and when you try and discuss the other viewpoint with them then they call you naive.

Josh Berg 6 months, 1 week ago

Paranoid of people like you teaching our kids yes Paul

Ken Lassman 6 months, 1 week ago

My problem is not with your claim that there are bad teachers at KU--I'm sure KU is no different than any university in the US. I don't even have any problem with your assertion that there might be some socialists and leftists at KU, as there most assuredly are, just as there are some right wing extremists at KU as well, and I'm sure they are ALL capable of inflicting their viewpoints on their students. The whole idea of a university is to expose the student to the universe (hence the name "university") of ideas out there and then to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to sort out the wheat from the chaff, so that the student learns how to deal with folks who think differently than they do. Because guess what? That's going to happen after they graduate as well, and if they've done their homework, the graduate will know how to deal with it in an open, transparent manner instead of a repressive, passive aggressive manner and we'll all be the better for it.

Now that we have that sorted out, then I assume that you don't have an issue with Loomis' legitimate suggestion that the better model for monitoring voter registration is the one provided through the Pew Research Foundation and not through the Secretary of State Department of Kansas.

Josh Berg 6 months, 1 week ago

They want students to deal with people who think differently than they do so they go and make safe spaces for students to hide when people say something other than their views? Does not seem logical. Also, I was told in many classes that I was naive for not thinking like the professor. I was even discriminated against by a teacher because I was Republican. She actually ran for office as a Democrat as well. The fact is that some professors may be great and want to prepare to students for the outside world but in the end it is about furthering their own viewpoints. And I do not agree. Kobach has already stated that the current system needs to be reviewed to see if it can be updating and what the costs would be. If you do not like the fact that the SOS controls this system then elect someone you can trust.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 1 week ago

Hey, at least we're talking, so I appreciate that. I don't completely understand what you're saying, tho, when you say that "they make safe spaces for students to hide when people say something other than their views." "They," I presume, are the professors, right? So what do you mean that they want to make "safe spaces?" When I was a student, professors provided spaces where profound confrontations between differing viewpoints took place, but there were ground rules between the parties of mutual respect and reflected understanding, which I interpret as creating "safe spaces." While I'm sure that there are flagrant examples to the contrary on both sides, I believe that this protocol is still the rule, not the exception.

I see no reason to use public funds to throw into a security-flawed system created by a partisan politician who has his own agenda when a much more secure database is already out there. Using public funds in this manner sure sounds like socialism to me.

Josh Berg 6 months, 1 week ago

I am saying that it has become the norm to make safe spaces for kids to go now when they feel threatened. This feeling of threatened comes from the kids not liking the opinions of others who disagree with them. They actually have therapy dogs on campus for kids who are upset over new legislative policies. There is no discussing anything in the classrooms anymore unless the viewpoint stays on the one that the professor wants.

I can be certain things were a lot different when you went there and I would like to see this world that you are describing where everyone can air out their opinions and have a good discussion.

These message boards are actually an accurate representation of life in college classrooms now. I know I am rude and aggressive on here a lot of times but that is because I have seen the anger that comes from people like Dorothy and I get labeled and discriminated against on here because my opinions differs from that of a lot of the people that live in Lawrence. Even if I post something thoughtful and respectful, I get 4 others coming at me telling me that I am a liar or not factual. So instead of feeling like I need a safe space from which to work I fight back.

Translate all of that into my time at KU. Every class I was in that had a discussion would discriminate against conservative views. In fact, one time a teacher asked us before class what our political affiliations were so three of us answered Republican. We got a weird snarky look from her and it was no mistake that all three of us failed the course. Now I could have done better in the class and I was certainly on the edge of passing and failing but she made sure to give me that extra push on my final assignment. An assignment which, by the way, got an A in another class the year before. I am not doing this to say you are wrong but people need to understand the atmosphere these kids are going through at KU. It is either conform to the thoughts of your professors or risk being put down and possibly failing a course.

Ken Lassman 6 months, 1 week ago

I certainly have no reason to doubt your experiences in the classroom, Josh, and my reaction is that at least part of what might be at play is the degree to which increasing polarization is affecting our society as a whole. I also feel like the art of conversing and exploring ideas in an inquisitive, rigorous but non-alienating way is becoming more endangered as students have been buffered and distracted away from developing those skills as a central part of their educational curriculum.

I suspect that many instructors feel like the only way they can create a "safe space" in the classroom is by squelching controversy very early in the discussion lest it become sloganeering, stereotyping and even traumatizing. I was exposed to critical thinking and logical argument development strategies pretty early on, and I really wonder when and even if these are generally taught to the degree that they used to be. That used to be the core of what was called the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and with the increasing hyperfocus on technical skills acquisition, I fear much of those foundational skills have been sorely neglected.

I'm speculating of course, but I know instructors who are currently teaching and don't act in the way you have characterized your instructor, so I'm reluctant to generalize to the extent that you have done. I know nothing about your project, but I never re-submitted a project from one class to another instructor. Is that common practice nowadays? I certainly wouldn't give a student a good grade for a recycled paper, and would reward the mediocre but original essay from a hard working student trying to develop their critical thinking skills over the polished cut, paste and rearrange product of the peer.

All of this, of course, is an aside to challenging your original unjustified name calling for no good reason of a legitimately good idea from a KU professor.

Gary Stussie 6 months ago

Econ Journal Watch 2016 study looked at faculty voter registration at 40 leading universities and finds that, out of 7,243 professors, Democrats outnumber Republicans 3,623 to 314, or by a ratio of 11 1/2 to 1

On the East coast the ration was near 40 liberal professors to each conservative professor.

They attributed the rapidly growing disparity, in part, to the rise of academic subcategories, such as the histories of gender, race and class, where a liberal orientation is the foundation for subsequent research.

The heavy liberal leanings have given rise to campus race protests, the disinvitation of conservative speakers, the popularization of phrases such as “trigger warning” and “safe space.... and course offerings that boggle the mind (see link below!)


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