Indiana’s use of Kris Kobach’s controversial system to help purge the state’s voter rolls is illegal, a new lawsuit contends.
The case underscores a troubling reality: Many voting advocates rightly worry that the White House voting commission, which Kobach leads, will encourage states to more aggressively purge their rolls. But some states — and not just Indiana — aren’t waiting for a green light from the commission.
Under an Indiana law passed in April, local election officials can immediately purge anyone flagged by Kobach’s Crosscheck program as being registered to vote in multiple states.
The lawsuit, filed Friday by Common Cause Indiana and the ACLU, charges that the law violates the National Voter Registration Act, which contains safeguards against voters being wrongly removed from the rolls.
The suit cites a rigorous study released last week by scholars at Harvard, Stanford, Microsoft, and more, which examined the Crosscheck program, in which states share voter registration information in order to catch voters who are registered in more than one state. The study found just one out of roughly 200 names flagged by Crosscheck is indeed a voter registered in multiple states, while the rest are false positives. Other analyses of Crosscheck’s accuracy have found similar results.
Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, promoted the Crosscheck program and has urged other states to participate. Kobach also is the vice chair and de facto head of the White House’s commission on voting. Many voting advocates fear the commission could be used to further encourage states to aggressively cull their rolls, potentially disenfranchising eligible voters.
The Indiana lawsuit could be affected by a case to be heard by the Supreme Court in January. In that case, civil rights advocates are challenging Ohio’s practice of removing from the rolls voters who haven’t voted in the last few federal elections. Georgia and West Virginia also have come under scrutiny lately for their voter roll maintenance procedures.
The Indiana lawsuit names as a defendant Secretary of State Connie Lawson (pictured), a Republican and a member of the Kobach commission.
A spokeswoman for Lawson told The Daily Democracy: “We don’t comment on pending litigation.”
An ally of Vice President Mike Pence, Lawson has a troubling voting rights record. Last year, she helped open a state investigation into a group working to register African-American voters, including a raid of the group’s office, that shut down its work. The probe found no evidence of voter fraud. And earlier this year, in her role as president-elect of a national secretaries of state group, Lawson said in Senate testimony that efforts to increase the federal government’s role in elections pose as big a threat as Russian hacking.