Bill to prevent involvement in cross-state voter database killed in Senate

  • Moderator Ewen MacKinnon II drops a set of ballots into the ballot box during voting at the Chichester Grange Hall on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Published: 2/15/2018 11:00:08 PM

New Hampshire will continue to participate in a controversial cross-state voter verification system, the secretary of state’s office confirmed Thursday, after a bill to prevent it doing so was killed in the Senate.

Since just after the 2016 elections, the Granite State has been a member of the Interstate Crosscheck Program, a state-to-state data-sharing initiative created by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The program allows participating states to access and compare voting records from other states – including names and birthdays – to flag potential duplicate voters.

Critics have said the program is flawed and misleading; a joint study by Stanford, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania last year found that the program produces 200 false matches for every one accurate double-vote. Senate Bill 439 would have repealed the state’s power to enter into such data-sharing arrangements.

But the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office says the program is beneficial; the reported matches are not taken at face value but are each evaluated by the office to wean out false matches, according to Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan. On Thursday, the Senate appeared to agree, voting down the bill along party lines, 14-10.

Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, chairwoman of the Senate Election Law committee, labeled it “a clear attempt to remove valid checks and weaken the integrity on our state’s elections.”

Liz Wester, state director for America Votes, a voter advocacy organization, disagreed, calling the program “ineffective.” The repeal bill, Wester said, was a chance to explore better options for cross-state voter verification, adding, “Granite Staters are rightfully concerned about allowing sensitive voter information to leave the state without just cause or protections.”

Speaking after the vote, Scanlan said the office plans to use the program again following the federal and state elections this November. But he said the office is planning to explore alternatives in future years. Among the potential options, Scanlan said: entering into data agreements with states one-on-one.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)




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