As a key deadline approaches next week on updating statewide voter rolls before the November election, it appears a controversial data-mining operation mostly used by red states to purge legitimate voters is withering, or at least dormant, in 2018. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program, known as Crosscheck, has been blasted in the press, academia,legal briefs, and federal court rulings for sloppy analytics that generate tens or hundreds of thousands of suspected duplicate voter registrations in member states. (It uses few data specifics, including common names, producing false positives.) Some of those states have used Crosscheck’s analyses to turn a bland voter roll bookkeeping process (removing dead people, people who moved) into a partisan cudgel. This June, a federal district court issued a restraining order against Indiana election officials to not use Crosscheck to prematurely purge its voter rolls.
Recent national reports about purge trends, such as “Purges: A Growing Threat to the Right to Vote,” from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, have detailed Crosscheck’s sloppy methodology and anti-participatory impact. For example, the Brennan report noted that Virginia’s use of Crosscheck’s data in 2013 (when the GOP dominated the state’s executive branch and legislature) resulted in up to a 17 percent error rate.
However, the Indiana ruling and Brennan report (the Brennan Center is part of the team suing Indiana) also contain revelations about Crosscheck’s downward spiral, if not its possible demise. That storyline runs counter to the widespread progressive narrative that voter purges are an enduring and widespread threat in American elections — including in 2018’s midterms.
At the very least, Brennan’s report suggests that Crosscheck is withering in 2018.