In 1947, C.T. Vivian — who would go on to be a close friend and confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King — integrated Barton’s Cafeteria in Peoria. Seventeen years later, the Voting Rights Act was signed.
Yet despite the many successes and sacrifices of the Civil Rights Movement, we find ourselves locked into many of the same battles today. Republicans in states such as Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia have passed laws making it harder for African American and Latino residents to vote.
The primary weapon used in this war on minority voting rights is a voter registration program called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, or Crosscheck for short. Billed as a program that would clean up voter rolls and stop double voting, Crosscheck has instead been used to unfairly target minority voters, kicking valid voters off the rolls.
This concerted effort to suppress minority voters is nothing less than an attack on the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. And while Illinois may not be actively suppressing these voters, by participating in Crosscheck we are enabling suppression.
Additionally, the security of Crosscheck has been called into question, with many cybersecurity experts saying the program is easily hackable and therefore not secure. This leaves the personal and sensitive information of millions of Illinois voters at risk.
This is something we should not and cannot tolerate as a state. Illinois voters should be concerned that their personal information has been stored on insecure networks, ripe for hackers. In the age of Russian hacking, Illinois should be a leader in taking steps to protect the information of its voters.
That is why I support Senate Bill 2273, which would end Illinois’ participation in the flawed Crosscheck program. In its place, we should instead use the Electronic Registration Information Center, a program that Illinois has helped develop.
As the General Assembly prepares to return to Springfield for the spring session in January, I look forward to supporting this legislation and ending Illinois’ participation in this unsound system. In 2018, the last thing Illinois should do is allow Crosscheck to continue in our state.
David Koehler represents the 46th District including Peoria in the Illinois Senate.