FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2018
CONTACT: Mark McCormick, director of strategic communications, 913-490-4113, [email protected]
OVERLAND PARK, KS - Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s deeply flawed and shoddily implemented “Crosscheck” program illegally exposed the sensitive personal data – including Social Security numbers and signatures -- of nearly 1,000 Kansas voters, an ACLU of Kansas lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court said.
“You don’t have to share the concerns that many Kansans have about Sec. Kobach’s voter suppression tactics to be outraged by the way that Crosscheck has been implemented,” said Lauren Bonds, Legal Director for the ACLU of Kansas. “This case is about a public official recklessly exposing the personal information of the state’s voters—Republican, Democratic, and Unaffiliated alike—and unnecessarily leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.”
The case, Moore v. Kobach, centers on the Crosscheck program that Sec. Kobach has made a linchpin of his efforts to reduce citizen participation in Kansas elections. Crosscheck is a data comparison program used to compare voter registration information among participating states. The program is free to participating states because Kansas taxpayers fully fund it through the Secretary of State’s office.
The class action suit is being brought on behalf of three individual plaintiffs—Scott Moore, James Long, and Nancy Perry—whose privacy was breached when Sec. Kobach’s office recklessly shared their personal information, including partial Social Security numbers, with Florida officials. The suit was brought because Sec. Kobach’s actions and operation of the Crosscheck program violated the plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment right to informational privacy. In addition, Sec. Kobach’s actions were egregious violations of the Kansas Public Records Act, which prohibits the disclosure of any document containing a Social Security number when that document also contains an individual’s personal information.
Lead plaintiff Scott Moore shared a name and birthdate with a different, Naples, Florida man, leading Kobach’s Crosscheck program to “match” them as the same person. Kobach then shuttled Moore’s information to Florida officials via unencrypted emails, leaving him vulnerable to identity theft. Moore’s personal information was exposed in 2013 but he only learned of the breach this year when he received a postcard and a one-year subscription to LifeLock, an identity theft protection company.
Kobach’s office provided personal information, including Social Security numbers, on at least 945 Kansas voters to Florida officials via unencrypted email. Other states participating in the program also received voter information via unencrypted email.
Eight states have opted out of the program citing privacy security concerns, and the liabilities it creates for them. Said Idaho’s Republican Sec. of State Lawrence Denney of Crosscheck: “I thought the process was very secure. I had no idea maybe it wasn’t. I would just say that it has been very sloppy.”
The Crosscheck system has been fraught with problems since Sec. Kobach took over its operation in 2011. Multiple analyses of the system by data professionals have found that it produces ‘false positives’ at a 99.5 percent rate – incorrectly claiming that two different individuals are, in fact, the same person.
“Simply being born on the wrong day could land you in Sec. Kobach’s crosshairs,” Bonds said. “Our plaintiffs shared a name and birthdate with people in Florida and that was enough for Sec. Kobach to place them on a list suspected double registrants, when they were not, and then unnecessarily expose them to identity theft.”
The Kansas Legislature saw multiple, bipartisan pieces of legislation introduced in 2018 that would have defunded Crosscheck, only to have those bills blocked from moving by Kobach allies Sen. Elaine Bowers and Rep. Keith Esau.
Sec. Kobach has responded to the concerns about the shoddiness of the Crosscheck system and the wholly unnecessary risks of identity theft he has created by saying that no one has hacked into the system yet, so Kansans should not worry.
“Sec. Kobach is so obsessed with ways to prop up his failed experiment in reducing citizen participation in elections, that he’s chosen not to follow the most basic procedures for protecting the privacy of Kansas citizens,” said Micah Kubic, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas. “So much of Sec. Kobach’s agenda, from voting to immigration to education funding, is based on false narratives and threats that do not really exist. What does really exist is the horrifying invasion of privacy that Sec. Kobach has unnecessarily created, and the enormous risk of identity theft that he has created for Kansas citizens. If Sec. Kobach spent more time following the most basic procedures for protecting privacy, and less time trying to defy the law, court rulings, and common sense on citizen participation in elections, Kansans would be much better served.”
Additional information about Moore v. Kobach, including a copy of the complaint, can be found at www.aclukansas.org/Crosscheck-0618.
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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org