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Idaho to reevaluate participating in voter fraud program

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 14, 2017, 11:03 p.m.

BOISE – Idaho Secretary of State Lawrence Denney announced Tuesday he’s reevaluating the state’s involvement in a longtime multistate voter registration database.

Denney says that his office has received hundreds of emails from citizens raising concerns about Idaho’s involvement in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program.

“I don’t think anything has been compromised up to this point,” Denney said. “But we have questions about the security and we need to get answers to that before we make the decision to participate again or not.”

Crosscheck is designed to clean voter records and prevent voter fraud by comparing individual voter registrations and searching for duplicates. The program relies on state voluntarily handing over their voter lists. This year, 28 states participated. Four states have left Crosscheck: Florida, Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Idaho has participated since 2013.

It’s up to the states to decide how they want to proceed with the Crosscheck data.

Some states, like Illinois, take years to verify whether someone should be removed from the state’s voter rolls. Meanwhile, in Idaho, the process can be less stringent. Ada County election officials admitted they wrongly pursed more than 750 voters from the rolls based on Crosscheck matches in 2014.

Furthermore, critics have increased scrutiny over Crosscheck’s usefulness after it was reported last month the program uses an unencrypted FTP server to store Idaho’s and other states’ private voter information. This data includes date of birth and the last four digits of Social Security Numbers.

“I thought the process was very secure. I had no idea maybe it wasn’t,” Denney said. “I would just say that it appears it has been very sloppy.”

Past studies have shown voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Although voting in multiple places is illegal, being registered to vote in more than one state isn’t – which typically occurs when people move from one jurisdiction to another.

Denney says his office will review if the program over the next few months before deciding to continue participating in Crosscheck next year.

Separately, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding and Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett said they would explore legislation to pull Idaho out of Crosscheck during the 2018 session. In the Republican-dominant Statehouse though, it can be difficult for Democrats to lead massive legislative changes.

“We are sending sensitive voter information to an unsecure server halfway across the country as part of a program that doesn’t work. Why we continue to participate in this system is beyond me,” Erpelding said in a prepared statement.