The next major battle over voting rights in America is based on a lie

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The next major battle for voting rights is built on a lie. Election officials and policymakers are being browbeaten by national activists and Twitter bots to dump an agreement between states to compare voter lists for identifying duplicates and potential fraud.

Imagine that: Abandon tools to keep our elections more honest. If the digital mob had its way, America’s voter rolls would be maintained according to obsolete standards from the 1980s. Voter rolls would remain an unmitigated mess. Some people must like it that way. As of now, 30 states have agreed to share voter records with each other to keep rolls updated when people move from state to state. The average American will relocate about 11 times in their life. When voters move, they rarely inform election officials. When they relocate and die, their records can live on for decades with their former officials none the wiser.

{mosads}In 2005, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri decided to exchange information on voters moving across state lines who end up being registered in multiple states. If you moved from Topeka to Springfield, election officials could tell which voter record was more recent and archive the former once it was determined which record the voter wanted to keep active. Registrars knew they were dealing with the same person when they saw matching names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers in duplicate and even triplicate. Over time, the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck grew to 30 states leading into the 2016 election. That’s a good thing.

This year, more than five million potential duplicate voters were identified throughout the Crosscheck membership. Those research leads were turned over to local officials for further study and cleanup procedures where necessary. Like many systems built on common sense, Crosscheck is under emerging attack. A social media conspiracy turned Harvard study seeks to cast doubts on the reliability of the compact and trigger its dissolution. The academic researchers fret that if states are limiting the factors by which a voter can be considered a duplicate, such as only looking at matching names and birthdates, they risk misidentifying voters 99 percent of the time. The actual Crosscheck program doesn’t operate by such simplistic methods.

An email earlier this year among election officials obtained by the Public Interest Legal Foundation details how Social Security numbers and other facts are used to effectively identify duplicates in need of attention. The message also details how certain pieces of sensitive data per record are concealed during distribution for obvious security reasons. The false “99 percent” headline is also paired with a study criticizing the information technology security systems around Crosscheck itself.

No reasonable adult living in this century will argue against the ongoing need to improve cyber protections for any system vulnerable to attack, from which no one is immune, especially in light of Sony, Equifax, Uber, and the government’s Office of Personnel and Management. Working to discredit an entity based on the need for better technology guys is a desperate move, however. This line of attack ignores the fact that no such cyber intrusions have been documented, nor does it note that the vast majority of voter data held is public information under federal law and is often sold by state governments at a profit.

There is a well-funded and dishonest campaign launching against the important Crosscheck program. Activists successfully pushed Illinois lawmakers to reconsider their membership but later failed to inspire the state elections board to dump the system in a vote on Nov. 20. Although they likely considered the state to be an easy first domino to fall and they failed, they will not stop trying. One county clerk in Idaho tried to hype doubts over the program’s reliability even after his office admitted to cutting corners in handling the data. Crosscheck is slowly being admitted into the canon of grasping rationalizations for why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The state of Indiana is now facing a federal lawsuit to block their future use of Crosscheck, despite the plaintiff’s failure to produce a single voter that was negatively impacted. (I am personally engaged helping to defend Indiana in that litigation in my capacity with the Public Interest Legal Foundation.) Crosscheck also reveals the names of individuals who may have voted twice. Considering that voting twice is a federal felony that alone justifies its existence and perhaps explains why so many oppose it. It’s time for the Justice Department to start prosecuting those who deliberately cast two votes for president.

States should always be on the lookout for new ways to collaborate in the hopes of keeping pace with the electorate. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is ideally placed to help study and offer best practices for improved cooperation in identifying outdated records. Crosscheck is a tool that when used properly, helps the integrity of American elections.

J. Christian Adams is president and general counsel for the Public Interest Legal Foundation and a former Justice Department lawyer. He also serves on the Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity.

Tags campaign Donald Trump Elections Hillary Clinton states voters

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