In this age of cyber theft and Russian hackers breaking down digital firewalls from the other side of the globe, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants to make it harder to steal Connecticut voter identities. Merrill this year will ask the General Assembly to scrub voter birth dates from registration records, while giving people the option of requesting that their information be kept from public scrutiny. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday in her Capitol office, Merrill said that some hackers can glean enough information to threaten peoples’ identities, while others can sell voter lists – available for $300 – to marketers.
The White House plans to erase data collected for President Trump’s now-disbanded voter fraud commission instead of turning it over to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Politico reported Tuesday. In a court filing, White House Director of Information Technology Charles Herndon said the commission would destroy voter data associated with its efforts, despite the White House signaling last week DHS would handle the probe moving forward. Herndon added that the panel did not create any “preliminary findings,” despite White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders previously suggesting such findings would be sent to DHS, Politico reported.
A bill that would shield the personal information of voters and preregistered minor voter registration applicants has been filed in both houses of the Legislature as of Monday. Rep. Cyndi Stevenson is carrying the House version (HB 761), while Sen. Tom Lee is carrying the Senate iteration (SB 532). The bill would exempt the “legal residential address, date of birth, telephone number, and e-mail address of a voter registration applicant or voter” from public records requirements, in addition to “information concerning preregistered voter registration applicants who are 16 or 17 years of age.”
Much ado was made earlier this year when the Trump administration asked all 50 states for their voter-registration rolls. Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney told Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, that the commission could have only the voter registration information available under Idaho law — name, address, party affiliation and election-participation history. Denney assured the public that other personal information collected on Idaho’s voter registration forms — a voter’s date of birth, driver’s-license number and the last four digits of the Social Security number — is not releasable under Idaho’s public records law. Kobach, he said, could not have it. In fact, Denney had already given it to Kobach. In February, Denney gave Kobach information on all registered Idaho voters, including two pieces of voters’ non-public personal information — their birth dates and abbreviated Social Security numbers. And that was not the first time. Kobach received the same information about Idaho voters in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Why did this happen?
North Dakota state officials are unable to provide requested voter information to a controversial committee studying alleged voter fraud, Secretary of State Al Jaeger told the commission this week. In a letter to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity dated Tuesday, Sept. 5, Jaeger said North Dakota doesn’t register voters and state law doesn’t allow information maintained in its Central Voter File to be shared “except with certain individuals and groups and for a specific limited purpose.” He said information in the CVF is only available to candidates, political parties and political committees and may only be used for election-related purposes. “The commission does not qualify as an eligible recipient,” Jaeger, a Republican, wrote.
California: They sued for Clinton’s emails. Now they want information on California voters | Los Angeles Times
California’s top elections officer and 11 county registrars have been asked to hand over detailed voter registration records or face a federal lawsuit, a request that centers on new accusations that the records are inaccurate. The effort by the conservative-leaning organization Judicial Watch seeks an explanation for what its attorneys contend are official records that don’t match the group’s estimates of the legally eligible voting population in the counties, including Los Angeles County. “We want the actual data,” said Robert Popper, an attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based organization. The effort was sharply criticized Tuesday by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who said he has yet to make a final decision on how to respond. “It’s bad math and dubious methodology,” Padilla said of the accusations.
New York state will hand over some voter information to President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud, becoming the first state to largely comply with the request after initially balking. The state’s Board of Elections voted Wednesday to provide data such as voter names, birthdates, addresses and voting history after determining it was a legitimate request based on state open records laws. The state will withhold certain information, however, such as a voter’s Social Security number or criminal history, because of state laws on voter privacy. “The data will be sent out this afternoon,” said John Conklin, a spokesman for the Board of Elections. “We had no lawful reason to deny it.”
Threat intelligence company LookingGlass Cyber Solutions says it has discovered over 40 million voter records from nine different states being traded in an underground forum for stolen credit card data and login credentials. The voter records being offered for sale include the voter’s full first, last and middle name, voter ID, birthdate, voter status, party affiliation, residential address and other details. The data belongs to voters in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington State. Over the last two days, voter databases from at least two of the states—Arkansas and Ohio—were sold for a mere $2 each, or a total of $4 for almost 10 million voter records. That suggests financial gain is not the primary reason for the activity, according to LookingGlass. ‘Logan,’ the individual who has advertised the data and is selling it on a site called RaidForums, has hinted at possessing voter records for an additional 20 to 25 states, says Jonathan Tomek, director of threat research at LookingGlass Cyber Solutions.
National: Kris Kobach says Trump’s fraud panel will keep voter data secure. Some states aren’t buying it | Los Angeles Times
After weeks of legal battles and bipartisan pushback from top election officials nationwide, President Trump’s voter fraud commission has renewed a message for the states: It’s safe to pass along your data about voters. “Individuals’ voter registration records will be kept confidential and secure throughout the duration of the commission’s existence,” Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the commission, wrote in a letter sent late Wednesday to all 50 secretaries of state. Even so, by Thursday, much of the criticism that greeted an earlier request from the commission was repeated by election officials and activists, who have expressed concerns about privacy and have called the panel both a sham created by an insecure president and a tool to suppress votes. … The letter from Kobach is the second in less than a month requesting that secretaries of state submit voter data to the so-called Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said Thursday that he plans to change the type of voter registration information that is publicly available after receiving a second request from President Trump’s election integrity commission. Richardson said the commission’s June 28 request for specific — and not all publicly available — information about Oregon voters raised privacy questions and prompted “a full legal and policy review.” He announced a new policy that covers the kind of voter registration information a political party or organization can purchase from the state. “Balancing the need for both privacy and transparency is a critical challenge in the internet age,” Richardson said.
Venezuela’s partisan divide is so deep and bitter that even the ID requirements for voters in Sunday’s critical elections have sparked controversy. Critics who fear the government of leftist President Nicolas Maduro wants to use the vote to push through a new constitution to keep him in power are questioning not just the motive but also the method of the national vote. When Venezuelans vote on Sunday to elect members of a constituent assembly, they will use special government-issued ID cards that have two numbers on the back. Plugged into the electoral system database, the numbers generate the identities of two people, said Gabriela Febres-Cordero, a former minister of trade for Venezuela.
The recent request from President Donald Trump’s vote fraud commission for a mountain of sensitive data from the states sparked a backlash and baffled many officials — not only because of concerns about privacy and security but because an organization already exists doing much of the same work. “There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel when we’re already here…and we do it very well,” said Shane Hamlin, executive director of the Election Registration Information Center, also known as ERIC. ERIC is a non-profit group currently made up of 20 states — both red and blue — and the District of Columbia that shares large amounts of sensitive voter data to root out possible fraud, ensure more accurate voter rolls and encourage registration.
One of the records inside a massive and rapidly growing Republican National Committee database contains three predictive numbers about President Barack Obama’s political leanings. There’s a 95 percent likelihood Obama will vote in the 2016 general election, the database predicts, based on computer modeling. It also shows an 83 percent chance Obama will side with his party’s nominee, while suggesting a 10 percent shot he’ll back the Republican candidate. It’s an extreme example—Obama, a two-term Democratic president, has repeatedly said he plans to support his party’s nominee and has been highly critical of Donald Trump—but it illustrates how the RNC has attached a score to each of the 192 million registered voters in America as part of a massive push to regain parity with Democrats in using data to win elections. Democrats have used similar scoring for several election cycles, but this will be the first in which the RNC has used such a system in a presidential election.
This week, the Virginia Department of Elections released the Virginia Election Data Project, a cooperative effort between the department and local registrars with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts Election Initiatives. The project analyzes election and voter data provided to the Department by local election offices and presents the data visualized in a user-friendly online format. “Like most election offices, we house a huge amount of data,” explained Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of elections. “While much of it is personal information that needs to be kept securely, there are ways we can be transparent about the data related to election processes to help the public understand election administration better. This is a way for us to use objective data to improve how we administer elections by figuring out best practices and sharing them across the state.”
National: It’s a Presidential Election Year: Do You Know Where Your Voter Records Are? | The Canvass
One of the secrets of the election world is how readily available voter data can be—and it’s been making headlines lately. In late 2015, information such as name, address, party, and voting history relating to approximately 191 million voters was published online. And recently, the presidential campaign of Texas Senator Ted Cruz came under fire for a mailer in Iowa that used voter data to assign grades to voters and compared them to neighbors to motivate turnout. Voter records have always been public information, but now it’s being used in new ways. Here are some key facts you need to know about the privacy (or lack of privacy) of voter information. All 50 states and the District of Columbia provide access to voter information, according to the U.S. Elections Projectrun by Dr. Michael McDonald at the University of Florida; but as with everything related to elections there are 51 different variations on what information is provided, who can access it, and how much it costs to get it.