CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Eleven days ago, Secretary of State Paul Pate issued an open letter to Iowa voters assuring them when voter list requests are made, social security numbers are "never provided." But now we know it's happened.
In fact, a check mark on a virtual box is all Linn County Auditor Joel Miller says stands in the way of his office sending out the personal information of the county's 216,000 registered voters. A scenario that played out last Friday when the last four digits of voters' social security numbers were sent to the Linn County GOP and a mystery email account.
The system used to send the sensitive material was done through a statewide program called "I-Voters".
"When I click on last four social security number, there's no warning that comes up and says, 'Hey, you want to send this out and you might go to jail?' There's nothing," said Miller.
The Iowa Secretary of State's office tells I9, I-Voters has been used successfully to process tens of thousands of requests for years but what's happened in Linn County they believe to be a first. They think that's because the employee responsible for the error didn't follow proper procedures.
"To the best of my knowledge there's no operator's manual for it out there," said Miller.
In an email sent to I9 Miller said:
"The [secretary of state] has never provided or offered training on I-Voters to my staff in the 10+ years I have been the auditor."
When we spoke to him he added, "There's not been training, hands on training, on I-Voters that I am aware of that have been given to my staff or have went around, and I think that's one of the faults I'm aware of."
A spokesperson for the secretary of state's office calls those claims, "ridiculous". Secretary of State Pate's office says Miller and three other county employees took part in a three day training session in Coralville back in September 2015 that specifically went over "Voters Lists and Dealing with Political Parties." They also point out, not only does a guide for administrators like Miller exist, but it also discusses the rules of what to include and not include in voter list requests.
"The rebuttal I know from the secretary of state on that particular item was here's a training slide, here's a powerpoint that your staff attended back in August of '15. A powerpoint is not hands on training. And if you happened to get up and go to the restroom during that you missed it," said Miller.
The Secretary of State's Office tells I9, I-Voters has been used to process voter data requests since 2006. Miller says his message is simple, the program should not have the option to send social security numbers.
Late Friday evening, Miller gave I9 a letter he was sent from Deputy Secretary of State Carol Olson. It says in part, they are looking at whether the current system should be modified, they are handling all voter lists requests for Linn County until they have new policies in place, they are working with the state Chief Information Officer to re-offer Linn County IT security training, and are recommending that future voter data transfers be done over a secure temporary link.