Idaho Secretary of State candidates debate (copy)

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney

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Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney responded today to Rep. Greg Chaney’s demand for information about the improper release of protected voter information to an arm of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which posted it online. Denney, while chiding Chaney for releasing his demand letter to the public, detailed the incident, revealing that he sent Idaho Freedom Action not one, but two versions of the state’s list of all voters who have requested absentee ballots that included legally protected information before finally getting it right, with full redactions for judges, victims of domestic violence, and others whose information is protected from release by law.

Chaney, R-Caldwell, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said he’s considering introducing legislation in his committee when lawmakers reconvene in January to ensure such a breach never occurs again.

Denney wrote that the error occurred because the process for preparing and redacting the list has been fully automated for five years, and a recent update aimed at reformatting the list apparently eliminated the redacting process.

“In 2020, an adjustment was requested to the absentee ballot request report to reformat the report to make it easier to sort, since the prevailing use of the report is for preparing political mailings,” Denney wrote. “In the process of this change, we believe that the code which suppressed the information in question, based on the flagged field in the database, was unintentionally disabled.””

Denney said a new statewide voter registration database system is due to be put in place after the close of the May 2020 primary election cycle. “As such, the lessons learned in this event have already been applied to and created modifications planned for the new system. This, however, will not be enough.”

Denney said he believes changes to the state law regarding the protected information also are warranted. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), along with full copies of both Denney's and Chaney's letters, or pick up Wednesday's edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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