Back in 2005, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — who as chair of his state’s Republican Party championed an illegal voter suppression technique called “caging” — launched a program called Interstate Crosscheck to compare voter registration data across states and ferret out evidence of double voting. The program has since expanded to 30 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), but it’s been controversial from the start. For one thing, it’s resulted in very few actual cases of fraud being referred for prosecution, as alleged cases of double voting in multiple states turned out to be clerical and other errors. One tally found that while the program has flagged 7.2 million possible double registrants, no more than four have actually been charged with deliberate double registration or double voting. Meanwhile, some states including Florida dropped out of the program due to doubts about the reliability of its data — though others, including the swing state of North Carolina, joined despite those issues.
Now a new investigation from Rolling Stone raises fresh concerns about Interstate Crosscheck, finding that its methodology has a built-in racial bias that puts people with African-American, Latino and Asian names at greater risk of being wrongly accused of double voting.
Investigative reporter Greg Palast obtained lists compiled by Crosscheck in 2014 of alleged double registrants from several states. The program is supposed to match first, middle and last name, plus birth date; it also provides the last four digits of a Social Security number for additional verification. But Palast found that a quarter of the listed names lacked a middle-name match, that the system ignored designations of Jr. and Sr., and that Social Security numbers weren’t included on any of the lists he obtained.