Despite Hacking Concerns, Governor Won't Pull Illinois From Voter Database
By Monique Garcia
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that he doesn't see "any reason" for Illinois to end its participation in a controversial multistate voter registration system, which critics have called inaccurate and vulnerable to hackers.
Rauner's remarks came one day before he faces a deadline to act on a bill that would withdraw Illinois from the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. The database is run through the Kansas secretary of state's office and is aimed at flagging duplicate voter registrations across state lines.
"I don't see any reason why we should get out of that as a state," the governor said at an unrelated appearance about gun control.
It's a signal Rauner is likely to veto the bill, leaving Illinois in the Crosscheck system. Democrats on Monday reiterated their concerns days after the Illinois State Board of Elections said the agency believes a hack of the state system was referenced in last week's indictment of Russian hackers.
"Amid growing concern over the integrity of our election process, Crosscheck is simply too great a risk for Illinois," sponsoring Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said in a statement. "With President Trump unwilling to safeguard voter privacy and members of his inner circle under investigation, we are duty bound to protect our own voters and their data."
Raoul is running for attorney general against Republican Erika Harold, who has Rauner's backing.
Rauner said he has received assurances from state elections officials that steps have been taken to prevent another breach, but he said the state's participation in the Crosscheck system "has really nothing to do with cyber attacks or safety and security."
Critics contend that in addition to being vulnerable to hackers, some states have been sued for wiping out voter registrations based solely on the system's findings without following procedures spelled out in federal voting rights laws.
Democrats who want to pull Illinois from Crosscheck say it's being used to deny people the ability to vote. Republicans countered that the database is an important source of information to prevent voter fraud.
Lawmakers voted to withdraw from the system after the Board of Elections rejected a similar effort on a 4-4 partisan vote, with Republicans against leaving and Democrats in favor.
Security concerns involving Illinois voter registration data and participation in Crosscheck was brought to the fore by Indivisible Chicago, a progressive group formed following Donald Trump's election that found various security lapses. The top election official in Crosscheck's home state, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was co-chair of a now-defunct panel on voter fraud that Trump established.
Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, just days after special counsel Robert Mueller charged Russian officers with interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Illinois participates in two multistate voter registration sharing programs: Crosscheck and the Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC. State elections officials have said the ERIC system provides more reliable information and greater security for personal information than Crosscheck. Of Illinois' neighboring states, only Wisconsin and Missouri are ERIC participants.
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