Virginia Voters’ Personal and Financial Data Leaked
Registration forms and ballots arrive already filled in for voter drive.
October 2, 2008
October 2, 2008
Nikkia Goforth asked the Virginia State Board of Elections for blank applications for her Petersburg church’s voter registration drive. Instead, she received hundreds of applications and ballots that had already been filled out with voters’ personal information, WRIC TV reported. The forms exposed nearly 400 voters’ Social Security numbers, names, dates of birth and addresses. The mailed envelope also contained copies of bank statements, driver’s licenses and passport information for people around the state –– items accepted by the Virginia State Board of Election in order to confirm voter identity.
“We don’t have to worry about people dumpster diving, if I were a terrible person, I have people’s Social Security numbers and bank information on my table,” Goforth told the TV station.
Goforth planned to return the material to the authorities, but expressed surprise that she had to inform them of the mailing mistake at all. “The scary thing is they don’t even know that they have done it because we haven’t been contacted by the State Board of Elections,” she said.
In a follow-up to the initial television report, Virginia’s election officials announced an investigation into the incident, but no comment or possible explanation was offered.
We’re left to wonder whether the Board of Elections would have noticed the error otherwise; and whether other Virginians planning voter registration efforts also received packets of sensitive data. This is not only unsettling on an identity theft front – another recipient could be the kind of “terrible person” Goforth talked about — but also from an electoral integrity perspective. There were absentee ballots in there. That’s not a terribly secure, or anonymous, vote now is it?
The last thing voters should have to worry about is the integrity of their vote and the security of their identity. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when we can expect to hear more about “human error” or mechanical glitches by state boards of election. In the meantime, you can consider how you’d cast your vote deciding which one of these is the worst Board of Elections fiasco:
Also, the FTC warns of scammers claiming to represent local election boards: