SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham commended the Illinois State Board of Elections’ decision Tuesday to end the state’s participation in a controversial multistate voter database.

The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program was designed to detect voters who are registered in more than one state. But the system’s lax security was widely criticized by information technology experts who cautioned Crosscheck unwittingly exposed the personal data of millions of voters to computer hackers. Additionally, Crosscheck was allegedly used in some states to unfairly cancel the registration of voters simply because they shared similar names and birthdays with voters in other states.

“The deep flaws of the Crosscheck system have become more and more evident in recent months,” Cunningham said. “Illinois could simply not remain a participating state without needlessly exposing voters to a data breach.”

Cunningham credited voter rights activists with local chapters of Indivisible with bringing attention to problems with the Crosscheck system, particularly its disproportionate effect on minority voters, who studies show were most likely to be wrongly removed from voter rolls.

In Iowa, out of 240,000 “matches” Crosscheck flagged as potentially double-registered voters, only six turned out to be the same person, according to a statistical analysis by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Microsoft.

Cybersecurity experts testified to a joint committee chaired by Cunningham in 2017 that the Crosscheck system also has several security concerns that make private information easily accessible. According to one expert, Crosscheck is so lacking in basic firewall technology that a “novice hacker” can gain access to the personal data of millions of Americans through the system. Several other states have dropped Crosscheck as a result.

Cunningham co-sponsored legislation to remove Illinois from the Crosscheck program in 2018. Senate Bill 2273 passed both houses of the General Assembly, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner.

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