The voter purging system that was unearthed weeks ago by Al Jazeera America in fact had a major impact on the midterm elections, as Al Jazeera America reports that the process of removing voters from the rolls because their names matched another voter likely accounts for Republican victories in the Senate races in North Carolina and Colorado and the governor’s race in Kansas.
In North Carolina, where Republican Thom Tillis won over incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan by just 48,511 votes, the voter purging system known as Crosscheck tagged an alarming 589,393 North Carolinians as possible illegal double voters (though state elections officials cut that down to roughly 190,000), according to Al Jazeera America. In Colorado, where Republican Cory Gardner beat incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall, there were 300,842 of the state’s voters subject to being purged from the voter rolls.
While the public had been focused on Republican efforts to restrict voting by implementing voter ID laws, the stealth campaign was ongoing in 27 states to remove millions of people — particularly Blacks, Hispanics and Asians — from the rolls by claiming they are double voters who are committing fraud by voting in more than one state at a time, according to the nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.
Interstate Crosscheck generated a list of nearly 7 million names of voters whose names also appear in another state — an indication, according to state officials, that these voters are committing voter fraud by voting in more than one state. Though it’s not yet clear how many of those voters were stopped from voting on Nov. 4, officials had the potential to stop millions from voting in the midterm elections, which observers suspected helped to dramatically tilt the results in favor of the Republican Party.
In states like Virgina, more than 41,000 voters were removed from the rolls in Virginia using the Crosscheck list.
After officials in three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — turned their Crosscheck lists over to Al Jazeera America, representing more than 2 million names, the publication was able to determine just how ridiculously inadequate the name-matching system used by Interstate Crosscheck is.
Crosscheck compiled its lists by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from the 27 participating states, a process Al Jazeera America said has been spearheaded by Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, who has made a name for himself as a crusader against voter fraud. Of the 27 participating states, 20 have Republican secretaries of state, while seven are Democrats. The participating states are primarily concentrated in the South and Midwest.
But the Al Jazeera investigation showed middle names are commonly mismatched, suffix discrepancies are ignored, birth dates weren’t taken into account and the process deliberately ignores Social Security mismatches — in the few instances when the numbers are even collected.
In advising county election officials, Crosscheck’s instructions say, “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match.”
So all it really takes to become suspected of voter fraud — and potentially have your name scrubbed from the rolls so that you can’t vote — is to share a first and last name with a voter in another state.
North Carolina and Ohio have refused to release their Crosscheck lists, alleging that all the double counted voters, more than a million in the two states, are subjects of criminal investigation, which allows them to keep the information confidential.
Journalist Brad Friedman, who tracks vote suppression techniques state by state, told Al Jazeera that many of the so-called pre-election polling “errors” in predicting Democratic victories may actually have been Democratic votes lost to Crosscheck and several other vote suppression tactics such as Photo ID restrictions, missing voter registrations and a shortage of paper ballots.
Now that the purge of Crosscheck names has begun, Al Jazeera America predicts it will likely have a bigger impact on the 2016 race than it did on the midterms.
For example in the state of Ohio, the ultimate presidential swing state, there are 469,201 voters on Ohio’s Crosscheck list. As Al Jazeera America says, how many get scrubbed from the voter rolls could determine who will choose our next president: the voters or Crosscheck.