Rauner backs firm accused of voter suppression

The governor vetoed a bill calling for the state to withdraw from Kansas's controversial Crosscheck voter system

 Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have called on the state to withdraw from a controversial interstate voter-registration program. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have called on the state to withdraw from a controversial interstate voter-registration program. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Gov. Rauner moved Tuesday to keep Illinois in a controversial interstate voter-registration system accused of suppressing targeted voters.

Rauner vetoed a bill that would have required Illinois to drop out of the controversial Interstate Crosscheck system administered by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Crosscheck recently suspended operations as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security probes whether it's been vulnerable to security breaches. The American Civil Liberties Union sued Kobach over an alleged security breach involving the personal information of 1,000 Kansas voters.

Kobach was also a member of a panel formed by President Trump to explore his charges of widespread voter fraud — charges never substantiated. The panel has since disbanded in the face of accusations that it was actually intended to suppress voters.

Rauner signaled Monday that he was supportive of Crosscheck. Asked about the interstate voter-certification system in the wake of a U.S. indictment last week that suggested Illinois voter information had been hacked by a dozen Russian military cyber spies, Rauner insisted the state's election system was secure, adding that Crosscheck "has really nothing to do with cyber attacks or safety or security." He called it "a separate issue, and I don’t see any reason that we should go out of that as a state."

The General Assembly felt otherwise, however, passing a bill in May that called on the state to only take part in the more established Electronic Registration Information System.

Rauner vetoed the bill Tuesday, stating: "There is no need to codify such a limitation in state law and hamstring Illinois’s efforts to combat voter fraud when other safeguards are available to ensure the security, reliability, and appropriate use of any data being shared."

State Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, lead sponsor of the bill and also the Democratic candidate for attorney general this fall, called on Rauner to sign the bill into law on Monday, saying, "Amid growing concern over the integrity of our election process, Crosscheck is simply too great a risk for Illinois.

"With President Trump unwilling to safeguard voter privacy and members of his inner circle under investigation, we are duty-bound to protect our own voters and their data," he added. "The right to vote freely and privately is the bedrock of our democracy, and I call on Gov. Rauner to sign this bill and get us out of Crosscheck."

The ACLU urged voters to call Rauner and demand he sign it.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has been calling on the state to withdraw from Crosscheck since last September, when it charged that the system was "prone to false matches and illegal voter-roll purges."

ACLU Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka said Tuesday that the indictment of a dozen Russians by U.S. Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller had shined a spotlight on the issue, adding, "I think people feel a little more alarmed after the hacking thing last week."