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August 5, 2016
Last November, unauthorized Georgia voter information was released. The twelve recipients of the information spanned from the media to GunOwner magazine. Needless to say, this created a frenzy at Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. Due to the released information, Georgia is now involved in a class action lawsuit. Among the sensitive data are driver’s license numbers, birth dates, and other demographic information.
A similar situation occurred in Brooklyn, New York. Irregularities in their system kept more than 100,000 citizens from participating in the state’s primary elections in April. The damage is so severe that an audit of the Board of Elections’ operations and management is now underway. One of the irregularities caused long standing voters to be declared inactive. This infringed upon their democratic right to participate. Over 50 protesters voiced their concern at a Board of Elections hearing shortly after the incident, and over 200 are signed on as plaintiffs in an emergency suit that was filed the day before the primary.
Class action lawsuits were filed over the incidents. In Georgia, the state is being sued. This is because though the selling of voter information is legal, sold information is only supposed to include the voter’s name and limited demographic and basic information. The inclusion of Social Security data is illegal. The incident also violates Georgia’s Personal Identity Protection Act of 2007. The suit declares, “Kemp has not notified a single Georgia citizen that his or her information may have been compromised. Nor has he notified any consumer reporting agencies about the breach that could compromise ‘the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information’ of each Georgia voter as required under Georgia law.”
As a result, it is extremely difficult to know who exactly was impacted by the breach of information.
In addition, it is unclear how the state received full information (such as driver’s license and Social Security numbers). Most forms only ask for the last four digits of the voter’s social, creating another problem that could violate Georgia’s Privacy Act. What’s the violation? Not disclosing what information would be acquired. In December, the state did offer to pay for credit monitoring for the parties it impacted, but it doesn’t eliminate the overall problem.
In both situations, it is important for voters to know their rights. Voters should understand what laws are in place to keep a citizen from feeling at risk. A voter always has the right to address an issue if they feel their rights are being violated or withheld.