Lawmakers and the administration have for years been seeking common ground on a federal data breach law to replace the patchwork of state and local rules. But even with such a law in place, Uncle Sam may still have been shut out of any role in policing the recent exposure of a database of 191 million voter records. The trove of personal information, complete with home addresses and telephone numbers, was briefly available on the public-facing web, due to a database configuration error. Privacy advocates and the media scrambled to investigate, but federal agencies were quiet. While voter registration information is public, it is rarely offered up for public consumption in bulk without some strings attached. Some states bar public-facing online voter record databases, while Florida and Ohio, for instance, both run public-facing voter record look-up sites. Ohio’s site returns addresses for name and county searches, while Florida’s requires birthdates and contains a notice that the site is intended for use only by voters attempting to verify their own registration status. Florida’s state government is considering legislation that would exempt voter information from public records rules because of the possible threat of identity theft.
“I think the federal angle is that there is no federal angle,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation.
The biggest federal law pertaining to electronic voting records was 2002’s Help America Vote Act, which, instead of protecting individual records, may have helped set the stage for the leak by mandating that all states compile centralized, computerized voter record databases.
That helped facilitate the accumulation and trade of records by the private data brokers that supply voter records to political campaigns – the real “weak link” in the setup, Alexander noted.
And Alexander said it is “problematic” that voter registration data, in most states considered part of the public record, are governed by an inconsistent patchwork of state laws.
Full Article: Is there a federal factor in the voter records leak? — FCW.