The voting records of some 14.8 million Texas residents were left exposed online and eventually got discovered by a data breach hunter overseas, according to TechCrunch.
Much of the leaked information is public record and can be accessed by anyone willing to pay for it, but the files also include a wealth of data considered confidential, such as years’ worth of the residents’ voting history. Records listing who residents vote for and which parties they affiliate with is not public information in the State of Texas.
TechCrunch security reporter Zack Whittaker reviewed the files, which were found by Flash Gordon, a pseudonymous breach hunter based in New Zealand. Although it remains unclear who left the voting records online, analysis of the data show the cache may have been provided by Data Trust, one of the Republican party’s primary voter file providers. Gizmodo has reached out to Data Trust for more information.
The leaked cache represents roughly three-fourths of all Texas voters. According to TechCrunch, the exposed records included additional personal information, such as race and ethnicity, and contained some sentiment analysis, which is typically drawn by political statisticians from marketing and social media research:
For example, the data includes fields that might score an individual’s believed views on immigration, hunting, abortion rights, government spending and views on the Second Amendment.
Other fields were more relevant to the recent 2016 presidential election, in which the data predictively scored individuals on if they “trust” or have “no trust” for then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Last summer, Gizmodo reported a leak of, among other election related records, 198 million American voter files, many of which Data Trust provided. That cache likewise included analyses predicting where voters might fall on various hot-button issues, such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and a woman’s right to choose.