Kansas Secretary of State candidates discuss voter information security ahead of primary

Capitol Bureau

The Kansas primary is seven weeks away and five Republicans are running for Secretary of State, hoping to edge out the others to end up on the November ballot.

The Republican candidates include: State Representatives Scott Schwab and Keith Esau, both from Olathe, former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State Craig McCullah, former cabinet official Dennis Taylor, and former Saline County Commissioner Randy Duncan. 

This week, current Secretary of State Kris Kobach made national headlines after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the state’s Crosscheck program put the personal data of more than 900 voters at risk. 

“I believe we need to do everything we can to keep the election process as safe and secure as possible,” said McCullah. “The security of the Crosscheck system has improved.”

The Crosscheck system is used to share voter data between multiple states in order to find duplicate voters.

Some candidates said it’s a hard system to hack. 

“It’s very, very secure and it also makes sure people aren’t voting in 3 or 4 states because that’s against federal law,” said Rep. Schwab. “As Secretary of State, you have an obligation to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

“You have to rely on your IT experts that it is safe and that it is secure, and if it is, I’m OK with Crosscheck system,” explained Duncan. 

Other candidates said more security measures should be added to the system to ensure it stays secure. 

“One piece of security that needs to be added to it is that sensitive data such as Social Security numbers are encrypted and we only compare the encrypted values,” explained Rep. Esau. 

“I think we need to do a comprehensive review of that system and that program before continuing it. It may be OK to do if we make some tweaks, but right now there is a lot of concern,” said Taylor. 

Brian McClendon is the only Democrat in the race and said there are better software solutions. 

“I will either greatly improve it or I will completely replace it with the E.R.I.C. system, the E.R.I.C. system that many other states use that has been shown to be much more accurate,” explained McClendon. 

One Libertarian candidate will also be on the November ballot. 

The primary election for the Republican candidates takes place August 7. 

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