by Alex Weddon | September 6, 2023
What is the most valuable thing you own? Your house? Your car? A piece of jewelry? Probably not. The most valuable thing you have might just be your personal information, the data floating in the ether cloud for anyone to see. The personal identifying information, or PII, of a United States citizen is worth a lot, according to Experian, a credit agency that creates a product from your spending habits.
Need to import a terrorist? On the dark web, agents can secure US passports for a thousand dollars. Social security numbers are only a buck, so there must be an oversupply. A driver’s license goes for $20. With information such as your social security number, passport information, and your driver’s license number, a person faking your identity can steal your money, your car, and your house.
These crimes happen every hour of every day, thanks to the internet, and many people don’t even realize they are victims until too late. Their house has been used as collateral for crooks to take out massive loans, or perhaps it is sold from under their feet.
“With this information, someone can even steal your ballot, and you may not know that thievery has occurred, either.
Where do unscrupulous people go to steal your absentee ballot? Your state’s bureaucracy, of course. Like it or not, adults and minors alike who apply for driver’s licenses can expect to have all the information they submit shared, at no cost, with undisclosed companies who repackage the info for target marketing or fraud. An example of this surreptitious sharing of your PII occurs when the secretary of state’s office processes your absentee ballot application. In only hours, juicy morsels of your identity and other information are offered to companies to whom the state has allowed online access, even secretive, non-governmental third parties.
The government should protect us, not exploit us. What can you do? For one thing, don’t offer more information that is required. Those blanks, by design, may look like you have to fill them in, but unless they are indicated as required, they are probably optional.
When applying for an absentee ballot in the state of Michigan, only a signature, printed name, and address are required. Don’t give the world any more information than that. Protect yourself. Your ballot is at risk. The database of all registered voters is at risk. A review of the state of Michigan's contract with online shops to "maintain" the Qualified Voter File (the official listing of eligible voters) clearly grants the ability to package and resell this voter data information other, private, agents and data centers. If you want to check your credit score, try Experian or other credit agencies. It is a good idea to do a periodic check. Identity theft will damage your credit score, cost you money, and cause a lot of stress. It’s important to protect your personal information and be aware of who may be trying to buy it. You can even check the state of Michigan's collection of your voting history. Go to www. checkmyvote.org. Your voter data will be right there.
Tune in at high noon tomorrow, Thursday, as MFE's expert panel draws a bead on news and issues key to election integrity. MFE was pleased to sponsor a legal claim to force Pennsylvania to comply with federal law and verify the identities of overseas voters. If the PA claim prevails, states like Michigan will need to comply too.
Attorney Elizabeth Nielsen will join us to discuss how usurpers are handcuffing Michigan legislators from doing their constitutional duty to decide the "time, place, and manner" of elections. Our dear Dee Davey, Washtenaw Leader, will demonstrate how to help precinct delegates clean the voter rolls. Jeff Schaeper is leading a near-final project to submit MFE findings to the U.S. House Ways and Means investigation, deadline next Tuesday.
Join a team. Solve EI issues. Make a difference.
You are invited to join MFE Zoom at Noon on Thursdays. Members only. Sorry, no press.
Michigan Fair Elections is a fiercely independent, tax-exempt 501(c)3 charity. We are operated entirely by unpaid volunteers and perform no contract work. We accept no government funds—not one penny. But we depend on voluntary contributions to fund our important, and sometimes costly, work. Legal claims are sometimes essential to improve the government and protect citizen rights, and they can be expensive.
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Calendar of Events:
Citizen Research Project | Ned Jones, EIN
Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. (ET)
Election Technology | Jim Womack, NCEIT
Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Introduction to Election Integrity Infrastructure | Kerri Toloczko and Ned Jones, EIN
Every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)
Vote By Mail / USPS | Ned Jones, EIN
Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Legislative Development | Kathleen Harms, TN
Every Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET)
Ranked Choice Voting | Melody Clarke, EIN
Every 1st and 3rd Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Voter Roll Maintenance | Cleta Mitchell, EIN
Every Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Vulnerable Voters | Kerri Toloczko, EIN
Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday at 4 p.m. (ET)
Kerri Toloczko: Join us on Tuesday, September 12th when we continue to discuss the importance of protecting minority voters through our Vulnerable Voters calls.
Media Training | Kerri Toloczko, EIN
Every 1st Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET)