The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has asked that the Commonwealth turn over its voter records to the federal government. The legality of such a request is questionable, however, and the Commission’s actions could put Kentucky’s voters at significant risk of identity theft and election fraud. It’s a dangerous cyber world where hacking tools and consumer information are sold openly on the Internet. In 2016, data breaches exposed more than 4.2 billion pieces of information about individuals. The Russian hacking of the presidential election was followed by global ransomware attacks that hijacked thousands of networked systems and foreshadowed new, more destructive attacks. Most recently, a consultancy engaged by the Republican National Committee accidentally exposed the personal voter information of nearly 200 million Americans.
Against this backdrop, the Commission has requested Americans’ most personal information: full name, address, date of birth, last four digits of one’s social security number, voter history, activity status, felony convictions and military status, among others. This detailed personal data represents a treasure trove for cyber criminals bent on subverting the election process or perpetrating identity theft.
The Commission’s actions will centralize U.S. voter information – making this database a mother lode for hackers unless tight security measures are taken. Unfortunately, U.S. government agencies have a dismal track record when it comes to the protection of citizen data.