Randall Killian thought he was investing in his new retirement property in Colorado when he received a mail-in ballot in 2012 asking if he would like to legalize marijuana in that state. “When I saw that on the ballot, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s something I’ll never get a chance to vote for again. So bam! I vote on it,” Killian says. “Voted in Ellis County (Kansas), just like I’d done for 25 years.” Problem was: Amendment 64 was a Colorado issue, on a Colorado ballot. Killian, who lives in Hays, Kansas, also voted in his home state that year. Four years later, in early 2016, Killian learned of his mistake from a reporter. “All of a sudden,” he says, “I’m indicted.”
Killian’s votes got him caught up in Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s high-profile crusade against voter fraud and brought to light one of Kobach’s most important, if flawed, tools: the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Housing half of all U.S. voter registrations, Crosscheck gained national attention this year after Kobach advised President Donald Trump in connection with the president’s false claims of pervasive voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.
In Kobach’s hands in Kansas, Crosscheck has evolved into a tool for shoring up claims of voter fraud instead of its original intention of keeping voter rolls accurate. And critics say that mission inappropriately targets voters who made innocent mistakes and shouldn’t be criminally charged.