As many as 113,000 voter registration files were accessed by unknown hackers, who gained access to voter information, such as dates of birth and drivers license numbers.
The announcement was made by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer during a press conference today.
The Division of Elections Online Voter Registration System is built and maintained by an outside vendor and operated by the division. The breach did not affect the division’s ballot tabulation system or the 2020 General Elections results.
At this point the voter database has been patched and is secure, the lieutenant governor said.
Meyer said he became aware of the incident on Oct. 27, 2020, at which point the division immediately began working with an outside vendor to stop further data exposure.
He did not say whether it was related to emails received by Alaskans on or about Oct. 21 warning them to “vote for Trump or else.” Alaskans in Anchorage, Eagle River, Soldotna, Kenai, Homer, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Bristol Bay, Denali Park, Palmer and Fairbanks area all reported receiving those emails.
Since the discovery, The Division of Elections, in cooperation with the FBI, state Security Office, vendors and other law enforcement, worked to determine the scope of the problem, secure databases, and web applications, comply with state law regarding exposure of personal information records, and assist law enforcement with any investigation as needed, he said.
“This was a very unfortunate discovery,” Meyer said. “We have been working diligently to understand the situation and identify the extent of the exposure so that we can accurately inform the public and the affected individuals about what occurred. I have full confidence in the voting process and in the final 2020 election results. Our voting procedures, ballot tabulation systems and election review processes are not linked to the voter registration system that was compromised, and we have other safeguards that ensure every voter’s registration can be verified.”
The information in the voter files is not linked to the Permanent Fund Dividend application information. Alaskans now are automatically registered to vote when they file for their PFD every year.
The purpose of the breach of data, Meyer said, was apparently to spread propaganda and shake voter confidence—not to impact the election results.
Many details about the data exposure remain unclear, such as the exact identity of the outside actors or the precise information that was copied. The State is still investigating, and is following its established mitigation policies, which can be found here.
Those voters whose registration information may have been exposed are being notified by mail as required by law. The division has also established a toll-free number that voters can call to check their status or ask questions: 1-833-269-0003.
A credit monitoring service, through Equifax ,will be provided at no cost to those effected.
“We have no evidence that the data has been used for anything other than propaganda. We are notifying voters to help them verify that their personal information is secure,” said Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai. “I remain confident in our voting procedures and the election workers and staff that make it all happen. Be assured that your vote was counted, despite this unfortunate event.”
A summary of the State’s preliminary investigation of the incident can be found here.