For those happily thinking that vote suppression schemes like CrossCheck are happening somewhere else, and that Republicans might be pulling shenanigans in lands far away – be WARNED as of 2013 Nevada joined the CrossCheck system. And, not to his credit then Secretary of State Ross Miller bought into it.
First, consider the source, Kris Kobach. “So far, in his career, Kobach has been the guy that John Ashcroft tasked with weeding out foreign travelers in the wake of 9/11—and Kobach’s program was so deeply involved in racial profiling that it was shut down. He also was the author of Arizona’s notorious “Papers, Please” law.” [Esquire]
Second, consider HOW operation Cross Check works.
“Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.” [RS] (emphasis added)
The “could be” part of the sentence is important because it forms the basis of the vote suppression efforts.
“Crosscheck has tagged an astonishing 7.2 million suspects, yet we found no more than four perpetrators who have been charged with double voting or deliberate double registration.” [RS]
How do 7.2 million people get to be “suspects?” The methodology is incredibly sloppy. If this isn’t by design then it’s at least a way to get the “most suspects possible” from a limited number of registrations.
“We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.” [RS]
It’s easy, if all the James Browns are lumped into one group then all become “suspect” and their voting rights denied on election day, as potential fraudulent voters. Now imagine being a Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore, or Taylor in the United States – the top ten surnames in the 1990 census. If Robert C. Brown moved to Nevada and didn’t bother to de-list his name from the Ohio rolls, Robert F. Brown could be struck from the list as a “potential” fraud. And, even if Robert C. Brown had absolutely NO intention of voting in Ohio, he’d still be viewed as a “potential” fraud.
RollingStone’s report continues:
“We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He added, “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”
Including Nevada. And who gets caught in this trap?
This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.” [RS]
Why is this important? Because 27% of Nevada’s population is Hispanic. 9.3% of the Nevada population is African American. 8.5% is Asian. [Census] What of the Social Security numbers and birthdays that were supposed to rectify this weakness in the Cross Check database? The Social Security numbers weren’t on the lists Rolling Stone found.
According to the report, those entrapped by the Cross Check scheme are notified by a small print postcard which requires a response to the Secretary of State’s office. It’s no secret who is less likely to return the post card – the young, the unemployed, those who move from job to job, minorities, women, and those in lower income brackets. Precisely the people the Republicans don’t want voting.
The ACLU of Nevada has some voting tips for citizens of the state:
“Check your voter registration status at least 30 days before the election. Locate your polling place and note the hours of operation.
Vote before Election Day, through early voting or absentee voting if possible. If you plan to vote at the polls, go early in the day to avoid the last-minute rush.
Bring identification even if it’s not required.
Read all instructions carefully. Take your time. Ask for help if you need it.”
We might want to add some additional tips – If you have a very common last name – If you have a surname which is common among ethnic minority populations – If you are a student – If you have moved recently – If you live in a neighborhood or precinct with a significant percentage of ethnic minority group population – Mark your calendar, perhaps on October 4th, and make certain of your voter registration well before the November 8th election.
Your vote counts – make sure it’s counted!