South Florida Sun-Sentinel by Anthony Man
February 21, 2020
Floridians voting by mail in 2020 elections are being asked to put their email addresses and home and mobile phone numbers, along with their signatures, on the outside of the ballot envelopes they mail back to the elections office — allowing the information to be seen and harvested by anyone who comes in contact with the envelope.
The request for contact information was added by the Legislature and governor last year as part of a wide-ranging law that changed several aspects of the way Florida elections are run.
Signatures have long been required on the outside of mail ballot envelopes, which used to be called absentee ballots. The new information request, plus the signatures on the envelopes, is “not very security hygienic,” said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America.
“I think it’s a really stupid idea. And I can’t even understand the rationale for it, quite frankly. That’s the sort of information that … should be inside the secure envelope, not outside for anybody to see it,” Grant said.
Any bits of information from one source can be combined with information from other places to access peoples’ accounts and impersonate them for various fraudulent purposes, she said. “Your signature could easily be scanned by somebody using a $150 scanner and then affixed to various documents as though it was you signing.”