NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In a shocking move, New York City’s Board of Elections has posted the names, home addresses, and party affiliations of every voter in the five boroughs.
All of the city’s 4.6 million registered voters can now be easily looked up on the board’s website.
Technically the records are considered part of the public record however, that information could only be obtained by purchasing a printed or CD copy from the board in previous years – creating a paper trail of who was accessing the information.
According to multiple reports, the BOE began dumping the records online in February because election officials (including embattled executive director Michael Ryan) couldn’t make a new state deadline which required the voter data published before the new state primary elections in June.
Ryan has already been under fire since the debacle surrounding the 2018 election, where New Yorkers were forced to wait for hours in the pouring rain because of rampant voting machine problems.
Privacy advocates are slamming the move, which tells anyone who visits the BOE website your full name, your home address right down to the apartment numbers, and what political party you’re registered with.
“How in the world is the New York City Board putting voters’ names and addresses just out on a public website?” Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY told WNYC. “That’s wrong.”
New York City’s decision is even drawing criticism from the state’s highest elected official, Gov. Cuomo.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the governor warned that the perceived invasion of privacy comes during a time of increased political division and fears the unnervingly detailed records could be used for voter intimidation.
“The New York City Board of Elections’ decision was theirs to make, but we believe sensitive voter information should always be protected,” Cuomo aide Caitlin Girouard told The New York Times. “When it comes to the current administration, we need to be extra vigilant to ensure New Yorkers’ information isn’t being used for politically motivated ill will.”
Now, because of the online dump, anyone from your nosy neighbor to a harassing political activist can come knocking on your door after a few clicks of their mouse.
Gov. Cuomo cited that exact fear when refusing to comply with President Trump’s voter fraud commission in 2017.
“The electoral process is sacred and New York law has strong safeguards in place to prevent sharing of sensitive voter data and harassment against those who exercise their right to vote,” Cuomo said in a statement that June.
That panel was seeking information including names, dates of birth, the last four digits of Social Security Numbers, and voter history.
New York did eventually hand over limited records to the commission in August of 2017.