ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Personal data such as driver’s license numbers and birth dates for tens of thousands of Alaskans was breached in an online voter database, but the state official overseeing elections said Thursday election results were not compromised because the online registration and vote tabulation systems are not connected.
“Although some voters’ personal information was exposed, the division has determined that no other election systems or data were affected. The division’s ballot tabulation systems, the 2020 general election results and the state’s voter database remain secure,” Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer said during a teleconference. Division refers to the state Division of Elections.
The breach affected about 113,000 Alaskans who had used the online voter registration system within the past five years to change some detail, such as an address or party affiliation, he said. That system went online in 2015.
After the breach was discovered in late October, a forensics specialist and law enforcement were immediately brought in to help determine the extent, Meyer said. An outside vendor was also brought in to fix it.
“The flaw has been corrected,” Meyer said. “The preliminary investigation indicates that although outside actors accessed voter registration information, the purpose of the unlawful access, we believe was more to spread propaganda and to shake voter confidence.”
Citing the ongoing legal investigation, Meyer and other state officials declined to discuss who might have breached the system, how propaganda might have been spread or if the breach was tied to threatening emails voters in Alaska and three other states received in October.
He said he became aware of the breach on Oct. 27, about a week after those emails were sent.
“Many details about the state exposure still remain unclear, such as the exact identity of the outside actors or the precise information that was accessed,” Meyer said.
Alaskans who had their data breached will be notified by mail with instructions on how to sign up for a year of free credit and identification monitoring.
Meyer said recent audits conducted by the Division of Elections have shown hand counts of certain races match the tabulations from the vote counting machines. The state certified the election on Monday.
“Alaska’s vote counting equipment is not linked in any way to the online voter registration system, so the ballot tabulation process remains completely secure,” he said. “Both the Division of Elections and I firmly believe in the integrity of the 2020 voting process was not compromised in any way.”