State elections director Bryan Caskey told lawmakers Tuesday the controversial Interstate Crosscheck program hasn't been used since 2017, when a Homeland Security audit discovered vulnerabilities, and won't be used this year.
The program is the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 945 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request.
In an appearance before the House Elections Committee, Caskey said Secretary of State Scott Schwab has ordered a review of Crosscheck to determine whether to abandon the program all together.
He also said the state could use $2 million in federal funds untouched by former Secretary Kris Kobach to gain access to an alternative. The initial cost for the Electronic Registration Information Center would be $25,000.
Under Kobach's direction, the office chose not to make $20,000 in security upgrades or use Crosscheck during last year's election cycle. In 2017, 28 states exchanged 98 million voting records.
To find duplicate records — because people frequently fail to update their voter registrations when they move, Caskey said — the program looks for matches based on date of birth and first and last names.
If the program detects a possible match, county election officers in Kansas send the voter a notice. If the voter doesn't make contact for two general election cycles, the registration is purged from the rolls.
The program identified 141,250 possible duplicates in Kansas in 2017, but it isn't clear how many of those were purged. Caskey said the system doesn't track that data.
"I acknowledge that, yes, there are some false positives," Caskey said.
When the ACLU filed its lawsuit last year, it said researchers discovered the system produced false positives 99 percent of the time.
Caskey said election officials in participating states exchanged possible matches via unsecured emails. He blamed Florida officials for making the 945 records public without redacting sensitive information.
The ACLU said Kobach's reckless maintenance of the system makes him personally liable, as well as the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, a federal court judge rejected an argument by the attorney general's office that the lawsuit should be dismissed because voters have no right to privacy for the information in their registration record.
Judge Daniel Crabtree said he was rejecting the argument "because its basic premise is wrong."
Voting rights activist Davis Hammet said it should be a no-brainer to switch from Crosscheck to the ERIC program, which was developed by Pew Charitable Trust with data scientists.
When Kansas first deployed Crosscheck in 2005, Hammet said, it was an innovative idea that relied on elementary data-matching techniques. The ERIC system incorporates motor vehicle registrations and produces more accurate results.
"If we're going to try to do this to clean our rolls, everyone seems to be in agreement that this is the way to do it," he said.