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Update on Voter Security Issue
by Staff report · August 24th, 2017

Update: The Linn County Elections department released new information on the security lapse. Four email addresses associated with the Linn County Republicans received an email on August 4 with voter data. The data sent to them incorrectly included the last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers.

"We immediately contacted all four individuals, and they were directed, by phone, to permanently delete the email," said the release. "Since then, our Information Technology (IT) department has done one house call," and there was another scheduled for yesterday, August 24.

The other two individuals are still communicating with the Elections office to schedule house calls.

During the house calls, the IT staff member does not touch any of the electronic devices, but instead verbally talks the individual through the steps, making sure all of the data related to the email in question has been completely deleted. Through this process, the IT staff sees the email has been deleted and makes sure nothing was downloaded or disseminated.

The rest of the report is as follows:

"We wish to thank the individuals involved for their patience and cooperation. We know that this was an unfortunate situation, and we appreciate their communication.

"The issue that caused the most concern involved one email address that was incorrect. We have been working with Google, the internet provider of the email address, to pursue legal remedies. On Sunday, August 6, we submitted an affidavit to Google explaining the security issue and requesting that the email be 'escrowed.' Escrowing is a legal procedure by which an email can be taken out of a person's email box. However, the person must receive notification that this has been done. We followed this procedure.

"Second, Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden assisted in obtaining a subpoena. This subpoena allowed Google to verify activity on the account. Google Legal Services has now provided a certificate of authenticity along with notice that the account was never used from August 4 - August 9. Specifically, the email address was never accessed, there was no IP address to associate with the email address, and there was no forwarding email set-up. In other words, the email address was 'dead' during the time of our security concern.

"We know that the email was escrowed or taken out of the email box. We also know that no one accessed the email.

"We believe that an appropriate investigation and consultation has occurred. We further believe that there is no reasonable likelihood of financial harm to the consumers.

"Auditor Miller is still standing by our office's request that the voter data export tool be modified so the last four digits of Social Security numbers cannot be exported. He will continue to lobby the Secretary of State's office to have them make that change."

For additional information, please contact Linn County Election Services. Phone: 319-892-5300, ext. 1. Email:


A security lapse occurred in the Linn County Elections office on August 4, 2017. According to an August 16, 2017 news release, the Linn County Auditor's Office has been working diligently over the past 12 days with both law enforcement and online companies to minimize any potential issues. "We have appeared before the Board of Supervisors four times over the last 12 days, and we have been in constant communication with the Linn County Attorney's office."

Legal processes are ongoing. Unlike hacking or theft of computer information, those working on the security lapse can identify where the data went. "We are working to ensure that the data has not - and will not - be further disseminated. As we work to resolve this issue, we are hopeful that further security measures, including ID protection, will not be necessary. If, however, additional measures become necessary, we will comply with Iowa law. At this point, the public needs to take no action."

The Linn County Elections office apologizes sincerely for the stress and loss of trust that this situation has caused. "We appreciate the public's patience, and we believe that the situation will be resolved. We encourage Linn County voters to continue to exercise their right to vote."

For additional information, please contact Linn County Election Services. Phone: 319-892-5300, ext 1. Email:
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