Registering to vote in the November election will require extra steps for students on the campus this year, after university officials shut down the electronic voter registration system following the February data breach. The system, developed before the 2012 election, allowed students to register to vote online by using their campus address, regardless of where they hailed from. There was also a prominent link to registration on the Testudo website, allowing students to complete the process in seconds before voting at Stamp Student Union. But this year, students will need to fill out paper registration cards and drop them in to boxes around the campus. “It’s going to be a lot harder, it kind of puts another barrier to entry,” said Student Government Association President Patrick Ronk. “It used to just be when you signed in to check your classes, it would be bold ‘register to vote now,’ and all you had to do was click-click, and you’re registered to vote. Now you have to go get a card, fill it out and drop it off. So it’s not as easy.” A record 4,000 students registered to vote on the campus and 2,327 registered using the online system for this past election, said John Zacker, the student affairs assistant vice president.
Zacker said online voter registration caused a significant increase in registered students from the 2008 election, when a total of 2,500 students registered to vote. University officials said they decided to shut down the system because it posed a risk to students’ information. The online registration system functioned by using the electronic signature and social security number saved in the database for the student ID cards, which were compromised in the data breach.
“Following the ID card system breach, the existing infrastructure was determined to be vulnerable and was subsequently shut down,” Chief Information Officer Eric Denna wrote in an email. “The voter registration system cannot work without accessing the ID card system.”