Editorial: Kansas, dump Crosscheck

As more states raise questions about the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, the state of Kansas should seriously reconsider its role in managing the program.

Crosscheck is essentially a database that contains voter registration information for millions of voters in more than 25 states — names, birthdates, addresses and, in some cases, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office manages the database, which was built in 2005 and originally only included four states: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. It was designed to help states clean up voter rolls by being able to easily cross reference voters who moved across state lines and registered in their new state without informing their former state of their move.

But participants are raising concerns about the security of the database and about the political motives Kobach might have for maintaining the database.

Last fall, nonprofit investigative journalism outlet ProPublica worked with a progressive-leaning group called Indivisible Chicago to obtain public records showing that the Crosscheck files are hosted on an FTP server in Arkansas that is not secure. ProPublica’s reporting also showed that user names and simplistic passwords were frequently shared in emails, making the database even more vulnerable to hackers.

Kansas, which receives no funding for maintaining the Crosscheck database, promised a review of the security concerns shortly after the ProPublica article was published. But it isn’t clear that anything has been done.

This week, the state of Illinois said it would not send updated files to Crosscheck until the security concerns are addressed. Idaho also is considering pulling out of the program, and a legislator in New Hampshire is pushing legislation to end the program, The Associated Press reported.

It doesn’t help that Kobach, who has earned a national reputation for pushing voter suppression laws under the guise of preventing election fraud, is the face of the Crosscheck program. In fact, Kobach’s role as vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, which President Donald Trump shuttered last month amid legal challenges and internal dissension, prompted the closer look at Crosscheck.

During his tenure, Kobach has pursued a handful of voter fraud cases in which an individual is alleged to have voted in more than one state. There simply isn’t evidence that there is the level of voter fraud occurring that would dictate the need for a program like Crosscheck. Worse, given the concerns over the security and privacy of the voter data, Kansas’ continued management of the Crosscheck database increasingly is a liability.

State lawmakers should put an end to Kansas’ participation in the program, with or without Kobach’s support.