Capitol Alert

Possible voter data breach probed by California elections officials

In this 2008 photo, a Sacramento voter registers to vote. Election officials are looking into the possibility that 191 million voter records were publicly posted online, including some from California.
In this 2008 photo, a Sacramento voter registers to vote. Election officials are looking into the possibility that 191 million voter records were publicly posted online, including some from California. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Tuesday that his office is working to verify claims that confidential voter information had been publicly posted online.

Padilla said the records were not posted by the California Secretary of State, and that he is collaborating with Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office to provide any necessary assistance. Harris’ office would not comment on a potential or ongoing investigation, to protect the integrity of any probe, a spokeswoman said.

CNET, citing DataBreaches.net researcher Chris Vickery, reported that a massive trove of voter data was found on a publicly available Web server. The database of 191 million registered voters, including many in California, is no longer publicly accessible, Vickery wrote in an update.

California law specifies that voter data is private. The nearly 18 million million-record plus voter file is available only for political, election, scholarly, journalistic, or governmental purposes.

Such data includes voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, and voting history. It does not contain signatures, social security numbers, state identification cards or driver’s license information, Padilla said.

Sensitive voter data has been in the news of late after aides to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders accessed some of the information kept by rival Hillary Clinton. The data is extremely valuable to campaigns because it can shed light on a voters’ various leanings and the likelihood they ultimately will vote.

It’s unclear where the voter data came from. In a statement released after the latest breach, Jim Gilliam, founder and chief executive of NationBuilder, said while the database does not belong to the political data firm, it’s possible some of the information may have come from data it makes available for free to campaigns.

“From what we’ve seen, the voter information included is already publicly available from each state government so no new or private information was released in this database,” Gilliam said.

Padilla’s campaign committee is one of many that have paid NationBuilder since 2013.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

  Comments