New Privacy Safeguards

(En Español) Acting on the recommendations of a bipartisan Blue Ribbon Panel put together following the arrest of an employee on charges related to identity theft, the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office is implementing a series of new steps designed to enhance the security of sensitive information belonging to registered voters in Doña Ana County.

The most significant change reduced access to Social Security numbers in the state electronic voter registration system. Working with the state vendor we were able to create an option to mask this information from screens showing voter information in search results.

The Clerk’s office has also implemented an ongoing training program related to responsibilities for protecting private information. This program includes annual acknowledgements, mandatory annual compliance training, notary training, leadership workshops, and new office policies related to working and visiting the office outside of regular office hours. These steps have been modeled after standard practices in the hospital and banking industries. We are also considering modifying the office layout to reduce the possibility of secrecy, and performing regular background and credit checks on employees.

In addition, we are working with the Doña Ana County Information Technology Department to upgrade video surveillance and workplace-monitoring systems.

The steps we’ve taken establish Doña Ana County as a leader in the state in terms of providing the most protection possible for keeping identities safe, and are a giant step toward ensuring that information is safe.

We have also shared the recommendations with other New Mexico county clerks and the NM Secretary of State’s Office to continue the conversation about vulnerabilities that need to be evaluated at the state level. These changes include modifying the electronic voter registration system to include more advanced auditing capabilities and additional administrative options to reduce access to Social Security numbers. We also need to change laws related voter registration agents to preclude them from taking full Social Security numbers.

We want to thank the individuals who gave their time, energy and ideas to help us develop these enhanced safeguards. The expertise and advice of Russell Allen, Dr. Paul Deason, Gwendolyn Hanson, John Hummer and John Muñoz was invaluable, frank and straightforward. They have produced a detailed report that we will reference frequently as we move forward. The report is available on the county’s website.