Linn auditor investigating voter data release

Last four digits of Social Security numbers mistakenly emailed

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Auditor’s Office is attempting to verify that some Social Security data on more than 200,000 voters accidentally emailed to four people this week has been deleted.

In filling a request from the Linn County Republican Party for a weekly update, an employee clicked on the wrong box and emailed data on 216,000 Linn County voters, including the last four digits of Social Security numbers, Auditor Joel Miller said Friday.

In no instance was a voter’s full Social Security number released,

Three of the recipients agreed to delete that data. However, Miller has been unable to contact or identify the owner of the fourth email address. The woman listed on the gmail.com account told Miller it never has been her account.

“We’ve been sending the information to that address, but we don’t know who owns it,” Miller said about the account that is in the name of a member of the Linn County GOP.

Miller is asking Google for help in identifying the account owner, “but without a search warrant or a court order, I don’t see that happening.”

Linn County GOP Chairman Justin Wasson submitted the email address to the auditor. The recipients are on the party’s membership team.

“I’m not sure where the disconnect is,” he said, and speculated there might have been a typo in the address he sent the auditor.

As of Friday afternoon, Miller had not received either a delivery receipt or a read receipt on the email containing the voter data or subsequent attempts to contact the owner.

“But we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that it is not an active account,” he said.

Miller, who said responsibility for the release ultimately rests on him, said that in the future his office will verify email addresses when filling requests for voter data. Another possible solution would be software that restricts elections officials from exporting data with Social Security information attached. That would involve obtaining funding for a software update, he said.

Basic voter information — names, addresses and party registration — is public information the Auditor’s Office makes available upon request for a fee that depends on the amount of data sought, Miller said.

So far this year, 28 people have requested updated voter rolls on a regular basis. Most are elected officials, candidates for office or representatives of political parties, according to the auditor’s website

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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