MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

Linn County Auditor, Secretary of State’s office spar over voter information mishap

The IVoters system is a statewide voter registration database that keeps track of basic information like name and gender, as well as more sensitive information, like social security numbers.

The IVoters system is a statewide voter registration database that keeps track of basic information like name and gender, as well as more sensitive information, like social security numbers.

Last Friday, one of the Linn County Elections’ employees was exporting publically available information that’s regularly sent to the Linn County Republican Party and can be requested by anyone.

That’s when Linn County Auditor Joel Miller says an innocent mistake was made.

“You confirm that every box is checked, except you don’t want drivers license checked, and you don’t want last four [social security numbers,]” said Miller while he showed the program to CBS2/FOX28.

The information for 216,000 active and inactive voter files were requested, and the social security numbers associated with those files were released as well, by accident.

Along with name, address and other public information, it would be an identify thief’s treasure trove. Right after the mistake, Miller and his staff made sure the emails were deleted by three of the four people they were sent to. They’re still tracking down one email address that was incorrectly given to them.

“If we are unable to minimize this risk and things escalate, we will likely have to look into ID theft protection services for the residents of the county,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker.

That ID theft prevention, if needed, would be paid for by the county.

Auditor Miller says there’s an easy fix to prevent this mistake again: remove the check box that allows the last four digits of a social security number or drivers licenses to be given out. He’s proposed that to the Secretary of State’s office, but Deputy Secretary of State Carol Olson says:

“Prior to the incident last week in Linn County, this has never happened in the state of Iowa in any county, to the best of our knowledge. That covers tens of thousands of voter list requests.

The state voter registration database was designed to prevent accidents like this from occurring. The default settings for creating voter registration lists automatically exclude confidential data. My understanding is that the employee utilized the internal search query, instead of the standard report module, to produce the list. If the proper procedures were followed, it is highly unlikely that this error would have occurred.

We are working with the IVoters vendor to explore whether the system should be modified to further minimize the occurrence of human error. We have communicated this to Auditor Miller’s office more than once. Any changes to the database would need to be discussed with all 99 county auditors before action is taken.”

Miller says he and his staff never received adequate training or manuals on how to properly use IVoters and that there is no standard practice for fulfilling voter information requests.

The Secretary of State’s office says there has been training and a manual is on their website.

Trending