Release of voter information in 2012

  • Tenia Woolridge

Voter information released ahead of the General Election was done following a request approved in 2012, according to the Parliamentary Registrar.

Tenia Woolridge said that a review was conducted to determine how voter information — including e-mails — was obtained.

Last month, in a letter sent to the One Bermuda Alliance, obtained by The Royal Gazette, Ms Woolridge said she was investigating complaints received by the OBA pertaining to unsolicited e-mails.

Lynne Woolridge, chairwoman of the OBA, said at the time that an OBA staff member used the Parliamentary Registrar’s online platform to register new voters. A single e-mail address was used for several people who did not have their own.

“The e-mails from the Progressive Labour Party were sent to the e-mail address that was in no way connected to the voters,” she said.

According to Tenia Woolridge, the decision to allow voter information to be released was made by then Parliamentary Registrar Randy Scott following a request five years ago.

“I have now been able to ascertain that the information was requested and approved in 2012 by the then Parliamentary Registrar,” she said.

File transfer of the information was “still in effect beyond 2012”, she added.

Ms Woolridge said the release of the information was in response to a request received by the Progressive Labour Party.

The decision to provide the email and telephone information of voters is “at the discretion of the Parliamentary Registrar”, she said.

Ms Woolridge said that while it was not her position to release all voter details to parties and candidates “there are no laws prohibiting such release”.

Asked if, as the Parliamentary Registrar, she would take measures to make sure that information including e-mail addresses was not provided going forward, she said: “I will consider each request based on its merits.”

One such e-mail was sent to the son of a Hamilton Parish woman.

The woman, who spoke with The Royal Gazette on the condition of anonymity, said that she and her son used her e-mail address when they registered him as a first-time voter.

She said they found it strange when her son received an e-mail directed to him sent to his mother’s address.

The 49-year-old woman said: “As far as I knew, only names and addresses were accessible to political parties. I do not want my e-mail or contact information accessible to those that do not have my permission to access it.”

The woman said she disagreed with Ms Woolridge as to who should be able to access the information.

“We did not sign or give permission to allow our information to be shared,” she said.

“It is a violation of my privacy. It was also obvious that they did not make the effort to meet with us in person but tried to go behind the scenes in getting messages to my son.”

Ms Woolridge said that the public should be reassured that there were “a number of security layers” in place to ensure the safekeeping of voter information.

“There has not been any infiltration of the voter database by unauthorised access,” she said.