One of the real untold stories of the 2016 election was how a program called “Crosscheck” disenfranchised thousands of voters, particularly in states Trump won.
The program, endorsed by Republican governors, was intended to compare voter rolls across different states to identify and purge voters with duplicate voter registrations across more than one state. The creators of the program claimed to have a foolproof matching method which included comparing middle names and the last 4 digits of Social Security numbers. Nevertheless, a report in Rolling Stone last August exposed deep flaws in the program, potentially disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters.
The Virginia list was a revelation. In all, 342,556 names were listed as apparently registered to vote in both Virginia and another state as of January 2014. Thirteen percent of the people on the Crosscheck list, already flagged as inactive voters, were almost immediately removed, meaning a stunning 41,637 names were “canceled” from voter rolls, most of them just before Election Day.
We were able to obtain more lists – Georgia and Washington state, the total number of voters adding up to more than 1 million matches – and Crosscheck’s results seemed at best deeply flawed. We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.
It was worse for people of color.
We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He added, “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”
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You would think, then, that before the Trump administration announced a big investigation into (urban) voter fraud, they’d check to make sure they were clear internally. Apparently not so much.
It turns out, according to CNN’s KFILE reporters, that Treasury Secretary-Designate Steven Mnuchin is registered to vote in California and also in New York.
In addition, White House adviser Stephen Bannon is registered to vote in Florida and New York. His Florida voter registration goes to a vacant home which he does not occupy. He may also be registered to vote in California, given that his residence was here before it was elsewhere.
Voter registrations do not mean people voted twice, and no one is suggesting that Mnuchin or Bannon voted illegally in any other states. But you see the problem here with Crosscheck in particular as well as the entire “investigation” of a non-existent problem. It’s very easy for someone who leaves one state and moves to another to be caught in the web of a voter roll purge, even though they did not vote twice.
Military families in particular could face this problem, given that they tend to move around the country and world rapidly. The fact that a voter registration exists for them in more than one state does not suggest they’re trying to commit voter fraud, and it’s a flawed metric for determining whether fraud exists.
So far, the examples of provable, prosecutable voter fraud have been Republicans, like the Iowa lady who voted twice for Trump in October because she was afraid he wouldn’t win.
This push to “investigate” voter fraud in the cities is just Trump’s vindictive streak looking for a way to discredit people who didn’t support him. It’s a play to his rabid base, yet again, and also driven by the likes of True the Vote, for whom voter suppression is the ultimate goal, not fair elections.