The release of more than 6 million current or past Georgia voters’ personal information, which was “announced” Wednesday by the filing of a lawsuit against Secretary of State Brian Kemp, is a big deal. No Joe Biden “BFD” jokes here; this situation is too serious for those.
The explanation Kemp offered late Wednesday via a written statement doesn’t cut it. What kind of “clerical error” are we to believe was really responsible for this? A monthly release of the same fields from a database is the kind of operation that should be automated — or, at the very least, it should run the exact same query every single time. There is no excuse for doing it any other way. What’s more, why do identifying data such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license information exist in a database in Kemp’s office without being encrypted? If those data aren’t being protected so that it would take more than a mere clerical error to expose them, that’s a problem in itself.
Kemp’s focus on the physical discs also flies in the face of everything we know to be true about data. Once distributed, the data on those discs can take on a life of their own. What remains unclear at this point is whether any of the recipients uploaded the data into larger voter-information systems they maintain, and what kind of exposure there could be from those larger databases. Kemp has said his staff confirmed that with the recipients, but at this point we’ll need a little more than his word. Can we be certain, for instance that the recipients, which include five political parties, don’t have their own automated queries run on such files? We also need to know whether those physical discs were the only means by which voter data were distributed in October — a month before local elections, it’s possible the regular monthly recipients weren’t alone in getting voter data at that time — and whether there’s anything in the procedures that limited the supposed clerical error to gathering data for those discs.
I am awaiting word from Kemp’s office as to when, or if, he will make himself available to answer these and other questions.