TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Efforts to detect voter fraud led to the exposure of private voter data from nearly 1,000 Kansas residents this year by officials in Florida, who released information including partial Social Security numbers to a woman who had filed an open records request.
The incident is raising more questions about the Interstate Crosscheck System, which was designed in Kansas to detect double voting or people who register to vote in more than one state, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The Crosscheck system, set up in 2005 by former Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, has been criticized in the past for concerns about security and identifying false matches.
In response to the data exposure, Florida election officials on Friday offered a year of free fraud detection and protection services to those affected by the data release.
In 2013, Kansas sent a list of 945 potential double registrants to Florida over an unsecured email account. The list of voters in the two states who shared first and last names and a date of birth also included partial Social Security numbers. In September, the Florida Department of State released the list in response to an open records request filed by Anita Parsa, a resident of Mission Hills, Kansas.
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Parsa said she didn’t ask for any data but was trying to determine why Florida decided to leave the Crosscheck program.
When she saw the unsecured email, “I was floored,” said Parsa, who began working with the advocacy group Indivisible Chicago after filing the request.
Kansas Director of Elections Bryan Caskey said the email violates existing policies. He said the Kansas database of nearly 100 million records is secure and has never been breached.
While acknowledging that Kansas should not have sent the data via an unsecured email he said, “I also am adamant that Florida had no business turning that over to any third party,” Caskey said.
In a statement released Friday, Florida officials called the release “inadvertent” and said the state will contact people affected by the data release. It is also offering a free one-year membership to the Lifelock program out of “an abundance of caution.”
“At this time, the department has no reason to believe individuals’ information has been misused,” the release said.
In response to earlier complaints, Caskey announced last week that the state would take over some key data transmission responsibilities from Arkansas, which was criticized for emailing usernames and passwords for the server containing state data.
Kansas also pushed back the start of the 2018 Crosscheck program to accommodate a review of election security protocols in the Kansas Secretary of State’s office that began in October 2016.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com