CHICAGO — State and federal lawsuits alleging negligence by the Chicago's Board of Elections were filed Monday after it was discovered that computer discs containing more than a million voters' Social Security numbers had been distributed to aldermen and ward committeemen.
It was the second discovery in four months of possibly compromised voter Social Security numbers.
About 100 computer discs distributed to aldermanic campaigns in 2003 inadvertently included voters' Social Security numbers, along with names, addresses and birth dates, board spokesman Tom Leach said.
Six others discs distributed between then and last October also contained Social Security information, Leach said.
"All of that said, obviously this is of great concern to us," Leach said Monday. He noted that although there has been no evidence of identity theft as a result of the lapse, the board will be notifying voters their Social Security numbers may have been compromised.
Since October, the board has removed full Social Security numbers from its voter files and now only uses the last four numbers, Leach said.
The discs were first created by the board after a 2003 fire at the Cook County Administration Building, where computers and voter records were maintained.
Leach declined to comment on the lawsuits.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuits, aldermanic candidate Peter Zelchenko, said he discovered the Social Security numbers on one of the discs last month.
Zelchenko is a member of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, a watchdog group. He called the disc "the ideal product for identity theft criminals to use and exploit Chicagoans."
The information could potentially be on computers all over the city, he said.
"We've got a serious problem on our hands," Zelchenko said.
Last October, the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project exposed a vulnerability on the Board of Elections' Web site that also could have provided computer hackers with access to voters' Social Security numbers.
The flaw was fixed and an investigation has so far found that no one accessed the Web site to steal or misuse data, said Leach. An accounting firm is expected to issue a report on the incident by the end of the month, he added.
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