People For the American Way

Kobach Collecting Voter Rolls Data: “No Prizes for Guessing What He Intends to Do with It”


Contact: Drew Courtney or Courtney Neale at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 2024674999

Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way, released the following statement in response to reports that Kris Kobach, vice-chair of President Trump’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” has requested all publicly available data from voter rolls in all 50 states.

“It’s disturbing that Kris Kobach is using this position to collect a massive amount of voter information from around the country, and there are no prizes for guessing what he intends to do with it. He’s obviously looking to create a new super-sized version of his sloppy, deeply flawed ‘Crosscheck’ system which he’s used in the past to prop up bogus allegations of widespread voter fraud. Ideologues who want to clamp down on voting rights have always been stymied by the fact that they’ve got a solution in search of a problem, so Kobach is laying the groundwork to change the facts.

“To be clear: neither Kobach nor his habit of concocting evidence of massive voter fraud should be trusted further than they can be thrown. They carry about the same credibility as the President’s late night tweets and should be treated as such.”

Earlier this year, Politico Magazine wrote about Kobach’s Crosscheck system:

“One outcome of this commission is that we could be talking a lot more about Crosscheck,” said Mark Johnson, who teaches election law at the University of Kansas law school and defended a man prosecuted by Kobach for voter fraud. “Since there are a significant number of false matches with Crosscheck, you’re inevitably going to lose people off the voter roles who should be allowed to vote.”

Marc Meredith, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the co-author of a recent study on double voting, agreed. Meredith explained that data sent to states is often based on first name, last name and date of birth, which results in the false matches. He added that what states do with the data, which is often a mystery, can also be a problem. Though detailed instructions are distributed with Crosscheck’s reports, they are not always followed appropriately, he said. In 2014, for example, election officials in Ada County, Idaho mistakenly revoked 765 registrations that were flagged by Crosscheck, including a school district superintendent who learned of the error only when she attempted to vote. Two states—Florida and Oregon—have dropped Crosscheck.

“I agree that you want to do your best to not have duplicate registrations in multiple states,” Meredith said. “But the primary problem is there are significant costs to taking acts to ensure there are no duplicate registrations. The way Crosscheck presents itself is costless. But understanding which registrations are active and inactive and making sure it’s the same person, it’s not easy. It sounds innocuous but the details are not innocuous.”

According to the study, there are two million people in the national voter file from 2012 who share first and last names and dates of birth. The study estimates that if the voter file is a complete record of who voted, then 0.02% of votes cast in 2012 were double votes. The study found that if the rolls are purged based on duplicates of first name, last name and date of birth, around 200 legitimate voters would be removed for every double vote cast. “Crosscheck is just a starting point,” Kobach said, noting that Kansas contacts voters and follows strict procedures when cancelling a registration. “States are obligated to follow the law.”