CHICAGO — Democratic state lawmakers announced a plan Thursday to halt Illinois' participation in a controversial multi-state voter registration database after efforts to persuade the State Board of Elections failed.
The legislation would remove Illinois from the Kansas-run Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a free and voluntary program that helps states determine if voters are registered in more than one state.
However, advocacy groups in Illinois and elsewhere argue Crosscheck isn't secure and could contribute to voter suppression. They've also raised questions about the partisan ties of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He oversees Crosscheck and is a chairman of President Donald Trump's election fraud commission, which is investigating unsubstantiated claims that millions voted illegally in 2016.
Advocacy groups including Indivisible Chicago and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois pushed for a recent legislative hearing where an expert pointed to security flaws with emailed passwords and unsecured servers storing voters' names and dates of birth.
"It's clear that a novice computer hacker can find their way into the voter files of Illinois voters because of the Crosscheck system" said state Sen. Bill Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat. "That needs to end."
However, it's unclear if the bill could immediately affect Illinois' participation. Legislators don't meet until January when Illinois typically submits Crosscheck data.
Also, there isn't yet bipartisan support. A message left for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's spokeswoman wasn't immediately returned Thursday. The State Board of Elections was split 4-4 on party lines to exit the program.
State election officials have acknowledged limitations with the database, which has prompted lawsuits and led to voters wrongly being kicked off the rolls in other states. But Illinois officials also say the information isn't easily available elsewhere.
Kansas election officials have said they're working on new security guidelines with the roughly two dozen participating states.