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State Officials Deny Crosscheck Program Targets Minority Voters

A Rolling Stone report alleges the Crosscheck system used by Nevada to identify voters registered in more than one state targets minorities and young people, a charge election officials deny. (roibu/iStockphoto)
A Rolling Stone report alleges the Crosscheck system used by Nevada to identify voters registered in more than one state targets minorities and young people, a charge election officials deny. (roibu/iStockphoto)
September 2, 2016

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada officials are dismissing a report in Rolling Stone magazine that the Interstate Crosscheck System to identify voters registered in more than one state intentionally targets young and minority voters for removal from the election rolls. Nevada is one of 29 states that participate in the Crosscheck program.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast had a data expert analyze the lists from Georgia, Virginia and Washington state and found an inherent bias, with one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian Americans and one in nine African Americans landing on the list.

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

Palast alleges Crosscheck is highly inaccurate, often flagging people who have different middle names and Social Security numbers, or who may be a 'Junior' versus a 'Senior.'

Wayne Thorley, Nevada's deputy secretary of state for elections, counters that the program just matches data and doesn't target anyone.

"Just because someone comes back as a match on the Interstate Crosscheck list, it doesn't automatically trigger cancellation of their account," he said. "And then, further investigation is done by the state."

He said Nevada also uses the Electronic Registration Information Center to match names from the Crosscheck list with DMV records. Voters then get a postcard to verify their address and if they don't respond and don't vote in two elections, they're dropped from the rolls.

Tod Story, executive director of the Nevada ACLU, worries that the postcard system could be problematic.

"It does not seem to be fair and certainly would affect more low-income and minority voters, who tend to be more transient, who are going to move more frequently," he said.

Thorley said that is certainly not the intent.

"If that has a disparate impact on members of minority communities, I'm not aware of that," added Thorley. "But it's not targeted that way at all. We're simply following the federal 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.

The article also noted that the Crosscheck system was invented by Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who co-wrote the 2016 Republican Party platform, which recommends all states adopt Crosscheck. He is also an adviser to Donald Trump, and is credited with coming up with the demand that Mexico pay for a border wall.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV