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AZ Officials Deny Crosscheck System Targets Minority Names

A new Rolling Stone investigation accuses dozens of states, including Arizona, of targeting minority voters for removal from the rolls, a charge state officials deny. (svanblar/iStockphoto)
A new Rolling Stone investigation accuses dozens of states, including Arizona, of targeting minority voters for removal from the rolls, a charge state officials deny. (svanblar/iStockphoto)
August 31, 2016

PHOENIX - Arizona elections officials are denying a report in Rolling Stone magazine that dozens of states, including Arizona, participate in a system allegedly designed to remove minority voters from the rolls.

Arizona is part of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which flags lists of voters who appear to be registered to vote in more than one state. Investigative reporter Greg Palast examined lists from Virginia, Georgia and Washington state and found that the program disproportionately identified Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans as potential "double voters."

"Crosscheck is a brilliant and devious way to swipe as many as 1 million votes, mostly voters of color - that is, Democrats - by this November," Palast said.

In Arizona, county recorders remove voters from the rolls without notifying them if they're found to be registered in another state. Secretary of State Michele Reagan flatly denied the implication that minorities are targeted for removal.

"That narrative is absolutely ridiculous. That is not why we would be involved in any state Crosscheck program," she said. "We are involved in that to keep our lists clean, to offer an additional service to voters to help them out, and to make sure that people aren't voting in two states."

Palast alleged that the lists show many supposedly "double voters" who have different middle names and Social Security numbers. He thinks they should get due process.

"People will show up to vote and they will not be allowed to vote," he said. "They'll send in their absentee ballot and it'll be thrown out, or their request for a ballot will be thrown out. They won't even know why; that's the evil part of it."

Elizabeth Bartholomew, communications manager for the Maricopa County Recorder's office, said they request the voter's registration card from the other state and match them carefully.

"We compare everything on the voter registration form - their name, the residential address, driver's license, last four of their Social, mother's maiden name, political party," she said. "They're absolutely untrue that they're targeting any group of people."

The article points out that Crosscheck was created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a former attorney for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Kobach also wrote Arizona's controversial SB 1070, the so-called "show me your papers" law.

In the Rolling Stone article, Palast said whether by design or misapplication, the result of the Crosscheck program is that more young and minority voters are having their right to vote questioned. He suggests that states are using concerns about voter fraud to justify using the program, even when instances of "double voting" are exceedingly rare.

Suzanne Potter/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - AZ