Voter registration webpage is an identify thief’s best friend

TastyWhale October 8, 2012 0

Not to mention a vengeful-stalker, burglar, or just your run-of-the-mill fraudulent voter.

This is bad. Your ballot can be mailed to and used by anyone else. Anyone who is eligible to vote needs to see just how easy it is to have your vote stolen and mis-used!

Where? Right here at Long Distance Voter. This is a list of all the different ways to check if you are registered to vote. It leads to all official state .gov pages about voter-registration.

Information easily gained:

How can someone find all this info on a page designed to tell you if you are registered to vote? Well, because there is the lowest form of security used to verify who you are.

Your name and your date of birth.

Both easily accessible to anyone who steals ONE PIECE of your mail.
A DR’s bill, a bank statement, credit card application… Heck with just your name they can guess your DOB or use a calender tool to try all the possibilities.

I’ve only checked a few states so far, but the info needed is sparse on half of them. Maybe the county or area code, sometimes the house number. Obviously if they’ve stolen your mail, they have your house number. Here is a selection of what I’ve seen:

Oh, or they can just look at your Facebook. You probably don’t have secure settings on there, and most likely filled out your D.O.B. so people can send you an emotionless “Happy birthday!” message. “Oh but no one I have as a Friend on Facebook would do something like that!” you say. No, wrong. Look at how many friends you have on FB. Yeah, I doubt that you don’t have tertiary or quaternary friends of friends you met a party once on there. Look at how many apps you’ve used that access that info (you gave them that permission, you really wanted to play that farm simulator so-and-so was talking about).

“But all the ladies at Bingo play it! It must be safe!”
I’m not ragging on Farmville, just using it as a recognizable example of how easy it is for apps to get your D.O.B.

While it is unsettling that in Washington state (among others!) you can easily find their home address with two pieces of information, you can also change that information with one more piece of info: the driver license number. “Ha!” you think, “I can’t remember my own, how would someone else get mine?”. Well, two really easy ways actually. Most times when you use a credit card the clerks asks to see your ID. If they have a hidden camera or just good memory they can get the license number there (as well as your address and date of birth). Any time you buy tobacco, alcohol, or other age restricted items someone checks your ID.

The other, simpler way is to just use an algorithm easily found online. If they know your full name and DOB (we’ve already covered how easy it is to get those pieces of info) they can just put that into this simple to use tool or another and have a very high chance that the results are correct. I’ve put in the information for friends and had a very high success rate. Just doing a general search I found multiple websites offering to sell you lists of driver license numbers (of course, for legitimate reasons like background checks or driving record).

Then it is just skip-adee-doo and they’ve changed where your voter pamphlet etc goes. Then they vote under your name. (I find it interesting that a similar technique was used by the antagonist in the 1996 film “Black Sheep” with Chris Farley and David Spade). I will state that I do not know if there are additional ID checks, such as sending a letter to your original home address asking if it was made in error.

While this seems complicated, people will do anything to cheat, steal, or find personal identifiable information. Heck, your half of this information could be public information and therefore most of the above is moot. On the other hand, you can brute force into the information by setting up a script that simply goes through each of the day/month/year combinations, or even just use this technique with common names.

Simply put, I’m afraid for those who have suffered and are terrified of their tormentor finding them again; of the old and ignorant that don’t know to be wary of these things; and of those who ignore their chance to vote so will never notice their ballot missing.

The above was sent to Gov. Gregoire, the Secretary of State, and Snohomish County on September 28th, 2012. If I don’t hear back, I’ll publish this Monday the 8th.

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