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October 29, 2008

NM Republicans used 19-year-old's voter registration to run credit checks

This is disgusting. Republicans in New Mexico are alleged to have illegally used voter registration data, including Social Security numbers, to run credit checks and other inquiries high school students who registered to vote in a drive organized by ACORN.

New Mexico Republicans released the personally identifying information of minors in the course of their political grandstanding over alleged voter registration fraud by ACORN.

One 19-year-old victim is suing with the help of the ACLU. More details on the lawsuit here:

It's not clear how the Republicans got ahold of the SSNs of voters. Voter registration information is supposed to be available only in redacted form. Perhaps the lawsuit will reveal how the operatives got the unredacted documents.


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I'm not sure I understand the story correctly. According to the pice in the New Mexico Independent, the ACLU claims that the GOP “illegally used private Social Security numbers to do background checks of legal voters and illegally disseminated confidential voter information to the press.”

Is the use of the social security numbers illegal because the source of the information was released by the office of a county clerk in New Mexico, and that release violated the law? Or is it illegal per se to use social security numbers to do background checks?

And the allegation that the GOP stole the information--is that based on the fact that the GOP could not have obtained the information (or obtained it in the form that they have it) through legitimate channels? Similar to the possession of recently-stolen property giving rise to the legal presumption that the person who possesses it was involved in the theft?

a whole new thesaurus is in order to describe their tactics. Disgusting is not even descriptive enough. Heinous doesn't cut it. Lowrate is not low enough ...
It's odd. Here they didn't even ask for full social just the last four. Which is slightly more secure if some scummy thang is going to steal your info.
Sometimes their initial scummy move must be observed (for a week or so because stupid but wily people have no patience) to see what their disgusting goal really is.
Perhaps to make voting more difficult by requiring NATL ID CARDS so none of this stuff (that they do) happens ...
Their bigger goals are to national card everyone so they can stick it all in a database and to privatize social security.

They hope to keep many from working to meet their larger goal (so many goals so little time) of creating a permanent lower class. This is very obvious in tampa where of course a sharp eye and tongue is constantly observing and lashing them.
This all ties in with that three number employability number they are trying to promote. They tried to get people to go sign up for it. Yeah, that's a good thing: another number.
Quick and dirty. Are you a 500?? A 234?? Or a Republican 900??
Sorry to stray off topic.

parse, that calls to mind counterfeiting. You may not counterfeit the money but it's like 'old maid' .. whoever is stuck with it loses. The money at least.

"Stole" gives a misleading impression, so I'm going to change it. They apparently got the information from voter registration forms, which they were entitled to have. They just weren't entitled to use that information to run credit checks, driver's license checks, etc.

The New Mexico GOP hired a private detective to investigate people who filled out voter registrations they considered to be suspicious. The whole object of the exercise was to trace individuals from their voter registration information, so there's no question about where the GOP got the info. Well, really the object was voter intimidation.

Lindsay, now I'm more confused. You write that the GOP apparently got the information from voter registration forms, which they were entitled to have. They just weren't entitled to use that information to run credit checks, driver's license checks, etc.

But the ACLU's press release, which you linked to, says that According to New Mexico state law, “It is unlawful for the qualified elector’s date of birth or any portion of the qualified elector’s social security number required on the certificate of registration to be copied, conveyed, or used by anyone other than the person registering to vote, either before or after it is filed with the county clerk. That suggests to me that the GOP is not entitled to have the registration forms, at least not without the social security number redacted. What am I missing?

You're missing that some Republican county clerk failed to fulfill her job duties, and in so failing s/he committed a crime. Before voter registrations can be released for inspection by anyone, the clerk is required to protect SSNs by REDACTING (marking up with a sharpie) the registration applications. The paper app includes a cite for the part of the NM civil code that requires county clerks to use the data the voter submits only for registration purposes.

In NM, there is no one who is eligible under the law to to what the state party did to these kids. The state and county aren't permitted to run a credit check or a driving record, which is what these thugs looked for with the SSNs. The GOP decided that there had to be fraud, because the kids from West Mesa are in their category of 'questionable' (brown, immigrant parents, poor parents AND employed in the cash economy if at all)--so they pulled all public and private records on them!

It is illegal to run a credit check on anyone without their written consent unless they meet one of a handful of tests. 'Wants to vote for the first time' isn't one of those exceptions.

This is outrageous. I'm leaving Justine Fox-Young a message next, to let her know how disgusted she needs to act by the illegal and wrong tactics she presented the results from. Let's assume for the sake of argument, as she graduated from Brown and is one of the smartest people in our state lege, that she didn't know how her party derived the list of 'fraudulent voters' that she waved around to the press. Had she known, she would have been unwilling to participate in this scheme. Right?

Lindsay, someone did steal the data. The theft was accomplished on behalf of, and for the exclusive use of, the NMGOP.

The discovery for this suit, in which we get to find out who exactly did it, is going to be interesting.

Thanks for the explanation Phoenix.

Thanks, Pheonix. Good explanation.

Here's what I'm getting from the story:

1. These voter registration forms were completed during a registration drive conducted by ACORN. They contained SSNs and DOBs of the registrants.
2. ACORN then submitted these forms to the county clerk for processing.
3. Someone gave the information contained on these forms (including the SSNs and DOBs) to the NM GOP. It's illegal to share these particular bits of information.
4. This "someone" who gave this information to the GOP could have been an ACORN worker. Or it could have been the county clerk. Or it could have been an unknown third party who had access to these forms. It's not clear from the story and it's not clear from the court filing WHO gave this information to the GOP.
5. What we do know from the story is that once the GOP received this information -- which they were not supposed to have -- they compounded the wrongness by using this information to conduct background and credit checks on these individuals.
6. Also, some of these individuals were apparently contacted by a private investigator working for the GOP who attempted to intimidate them into not voting, which is also illegal.

This stinks to high heaven. Like someone else said: there really are not enough adjectives to describe how slimy this is.

a little tangential but my guess is that the Reps will be pointing out not that they publicized personal info of minors but that ACORN shouldn't have been registering minors (who can't vote) and that it was ACORN and these minors who are committing voter fraud (which has been re-defined to include voter registration fraud).

Mind you, were they obtaining the info from these minors because they would be old enough to vote in the election (I can't remember if I was able to register in advance of my birthday or had to wait til I was 18, to be honest I'm not sure we women even had the right to vote when I turned 18).

"It is illegal to run a credit check on anyone without their written consent unless they meet one of a handful of tests."

I used to do database searches on people, and this is one that will get you in trouble. However, there's a difference between credit records and credit headers. The latter are the name and address data used to find the credit records, not the credit records themselves. Only voter registrations representing real people will have credit headers.

Maybe that's what they were checking---it's fast and cheap. I haven't done these searches in a while, but credit headers used to be wide open. I think they are more protected these days, but not as well as actual credit data.

I think the ACLU request for an investigation may run into trouble, ironically enough, on First Amendment grounds. It may be illegal for clerks to reveal SSNs, but once the SSN falls into the hands of someone who doesn't have a duty to keep it secret, I can't see how the government can prevent them from revealing it. I believe the Pentagon Papers ruling applies.

First Amendment may not apply. If some jerk publishes my bank account # and pin, and somebody else uses those to take money from my account, it's still stealing.

It's the use that's key.

(And I believe minors can register if they will turn 18 prior to the next election, your state may differ.)

This is exactly, precisely why I will not register to vote. With ICCPR privacy protections buried under a steaming coil of shit, with privatized domestic surveillance, and with an incumbent regime of totalitarian bent, voting will make you a target. This can't be a surprise.

MobiusKlein, IANAL, but using your example, I think we can make it a three step process: (1) Bank employee reveals your account # to someone who (2) publishes it where a third person finds it and (3) steals your money.

Step 1 is a violation of bank rules, contractual obligations, privacy policies, regulations, etc. that might be a crime also, I don't know. Step 3 is definitely a crime. If the person in step 2 is in cahoots with the person in step 3, they're in trouble too, otherwise step 2 is freedom of the press.

4. This "someone" who gave this information to the GOP could have been an ACORN worker. Most likely she dropped it off her flying unicorn, leaving a trail of farted fairy dust behind her. The day I see the news that an ACORN employee slipped data to a NM Republican, I'm quitting...everything. Because clearly I've been using too much of whatever.

Windy, I believe that the party hack who spewed out the press release claiming that Martinez and co. were fraudulent voters specified that she could prove it! Because! He! Has! No! Credit file! and therefore can't exist. So she may have been referring to having run the headers only. That would still be wrong and I think probably a violation of NM law on credit reporting, but I'd have to look it up. Regardless, sharing that data with the lazybones reporting for the ABQJournal was a bad idea because the right to publish doesn't cover the NMGOP.

So the ACLU is demanding that Pat Rogers--who hired the PI to bully immigrant grandmas--and Justine Fox-Young--who used to be a somewhat respectable person despite her allegiance to the Party Uber Alles--receive one subpeona apiece. They have some 'splainin to do about who had access to that data and stole it for their use.

I'll keep an eye on the hearings if someone will bring me fresh popcorn.

Brilliant solution, maquis.

"This is exactly, precisely why I will not register to vote."

Hey, guys! Gwyneth Doland from the New Mexico Independent here. I'm really enjoying your discussion of this story! You've gone over a lot of the things we've all been thinking about lately. Let me respond to a few points:

First, we know that the voter registration forms had been processed by the county clerk before printouts of those processed forms were given to the Republicans; Actually, it appears that the printouts were originally requested by a Democrat who lost his primary to a more progressive Democrat.

Voter registration forms are public information--if properly redacted to remove SSN and DOB.

The forms in question here may or may not have been correctly redacted; or, social security numbers may have been copied from the originals (illegally).

The people whose information was released are NOT minors. The guy in the video up there is 19.

According to the information the Republicans released, they may have run credit checks or perhaps just looked at credit headers.

Um...I think I got most of it there. Keep up the cogitating! And keep checking back on!

PhoenixRising: Riiiiight. It couldn't possibly have been an ACORN worker. They're so well compensated! Someone who is earning a no-frills $8/hour to register voters would never look the other way while his stack of registration forms disappears for an hour and is returned with a few bills in an envelope.

Silly me. Ideology trumps greed every time.

For me to not believe this... please pass me some of that stuff you've been using.

Sorry, Anna. If you were a New Meskin, you'd realize that in order for that transaction to take place, an ACORN employee and a Republican would have to meet for the purpose. Not remotely credible.

PhoenixRising, it appears you don't know what you're talking about.

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