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County Clerk Mails Voter Info to Wrong People

An unknown fraction of 1,500 people were sent someone else's voter information due to a clerical error at the Cook County Clerk's office. The Clerk's office says the information is incomplete and harmless.

In the course of registering people to vote, the Cook County Clerk's Office mistakenly mailed some personal information to the wrong people.

A clerical error affected an unknown number among the 1,500 people who tried registering to vote online, according to Courtney Greve, spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr. She stressed the information sent in error was not complete and should not pose a risk of identity theft.

The State Board of Elections offered online voter registration this year. But to complete the online registration, people had to mail in a signature. The online program was popular and successful, but about 1,500 people never mailed their completed form, Greve said. 

"They inputted the data online and the data was sent to us, so we know that they submitted their information online, but they're not considered registered to vote until we get the paper form with their signature," Greve said. "We did not want those 1,500 people to show up on election day and not be able to vote, so we sent them a mailing."

Ideally, the mailing was meant to include the addressed person's voter information — name, address, possibly a phone number and last four digits of a Social — and instructions on how to complete the registration process. 

"Unfortunately, in a subset of the 1,500, a different voter's information was on the letter," Greve said. "I know it was not all of them because we have received forms back signed from people with correct information on both sides."

Glenview Patch was recently notified by a resident named Kathleen, who declined to use her last name in print, who said that her son received a letter from the Cook County Clerk's office that included a total stranger's voting status and the last four digits of a Social Security number.

Kathleen is now concerned about who may have received her son's information.

"My son received an email asking to send the information back," Kathleen wrote in an email. "[Two] things were bothersome in that sensitive information was sent out and a lot of people were told they weren't registered one week before election."

Greve said the information that went out should not pose a threat to people's identity. 

"We don't believe that anybody can do anything with the information; it's incomplete information," she said. "We did not disclose anyone's full Social Security number, nor do we even store it in our database."

According to Greve, the Clerk's office has no way to know how many of those 1,500 people received the wrong information. So the Clerk's office emailed all 1,500 people, notifying recipients of the error some may have encountered and directions on completing the registration process.

"This is a very small segment of our total voting population," Greve said. "This does not impact all 1.41 million registered voters. We don't want people to be frightened prior to election day."

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