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Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

VERIFY: Is basic voter information online public record?

A WTOL viewer raised concerns that public information available online on boards of elections websites could be a data breach of voters' personal information.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Election security continues to be hot topic in each election cycle.

One viewer emailed us about the availability of some voters' personal information on local boards of elections' websites.

Our VERIFY team looked at what information is available and why.

In Ohio, you can find out basic information about your voter registration by simply going online to the secretary of state's website and typing in your first and last name and county. This will yield your name, full address, polling place and your party affiliation.

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A claim from a viewer says he was able to access millions of voter registration records including full names, phone numbers, and a voter's party affiliation.

So is this a data breach or just public information available to everyone? 

Our team can verify that this basic information is public record.

Fulton County Board of Elections officials say all of this information is available free of charge on their website.

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Campaigns use these records to target voters. That's how they know who to send a piece of mail to or who to target in a phone bank. What isn't public record is a voter's full date of a birth or the last four of their social security number.

The viewer also expressed concern about the lack of control of this data.

But Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office says it's always been public information. Some other available information like voter and state ID numbers are only used for the voter registration database — nothing else. 

"Unfortunately sometimes people try to scare people thinking this is private info that can compromise someone's information," a statement from the secretary of state's office said, "and that just isn't true."

We can verify this information is public record and not a data breach.

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