AUSTIN, Texas, (UPI) — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office accidentally handed over the Social Security numbers of millions of Texas voters to lawyers, officials say.
Lawyers challenging the Texas Voter ID law were given access to a voter database for analysis. Abbott’s office thought the attorneys would only be able to see the last four digits of Social Security numbers, of the 13 million voter records on the disks, about half included complete Social Security numbers, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
First Assistant Attorney Daniel Hodge assured Texas voters the information was never in danger of becoming public. The database was handed over on six password-protected encrypted disks under protective order from the court. When Abbott’s office learned of the mistake, a state police officer was dispatched to retrieve the disks from New York, Washington and Boston on April 12, the report said.
“At no time were these Social Security numbers exposed to the public,” Hodge told the Express-News. “No one was ever at risk.”
Rebecca Acuna, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, responded to the incident Wednesday.
“It’s shocking that a person who claims to be so concerned by identity theft could be this reckless with Texans’ most private information. Greg Abbott clearly has misplaced priorities,” she said. “This scenario wouldn’t have happened if Abbott spent as much time protecting Texans as he does trying to disenfranchise them.”
The Voter ID law was signed into law by Texas Gov. Rick Perry last year, but has been on hold by the U.S. Department of Justice until Texas can prove the law will not discriminate against minority voters.
The law would require voters to present one of five acceptable types of photo ids at their polling places. Critics say the law, which does not count college IDs among the acceptable types of ID, discriminates against younger voters, as well as poor or disabled voters who may not have the means to acquire a photo ID.