November 2, 2009

Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23

Filed under: Privacy/ID Theft,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:30 pm

VoterInfoHeaderNote: This post originally went up before 9 a.m. this morning, but has been carried to the top. It will stay at or near the top for the rest of the day because of its relevance.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link, and to Michelle Malkin and Doug Powers for the tweets.

_________________________________

Organizing For America’s nationally-orchestrated, last-ditch, get-out-the-vote campaign in NY-23 is a privacy-invading and potentially dangerous effort.

NY-23 residents should be aware that because of a pervasive lack of controls in OFA’s get-out-the-vote operations and a poorly designed campaign:

  • The person calling them could be a potential spammer, thief, or even a violent criminal.
  • That person will be asking for personal information that no one should be willing to give out, including but perhaps not limited to personal e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and the time of day voters plan to vote.
  • OFA may be unable to track down persons who call on its behalf if unauthorized, illegal, or criminal acts occur as a result of information learned during this campaign.

If you’re on the home page, click “More” to read the detailed post.

* * * * * * * * * * * *


As a dutiful, involved “member” of Organizing For America (OFA), I received this e-mail from my good buddy Mitch Stewart Sunday afternoon (red box is mine):

OFA110109email

Well, since Mitch told me I’d only need to “call three voters,” of course I clicked on the e-mail link so I could make the calls.

When I did, I saw this (names have been concealed to protect privacy):

OFA110109ClickingThru

The full list had twenty-five voters’ names and phone numbers (I’m not kidding).

That’s quite an imposition, Mitch, even on a long-time associate.

But okay, anything for the cause. I’ll have to remember to ask Mitch later whether he threw this on me because he’s having a hard time finding fellow OFAers willing to make three phone calls.

Since I tend to work better from a paper list, I chose the link’s “Print Call List” option. This action generated a print-ready web page. The top portion of it looked like this (red boxes are mine; lines within the document represent breaks in the text; some text was omitted to preserve space):

OFA110109Script

Note that they are asking when a person plans to vote.

Below the instructions were the twenty-five detailed listings. Here is what the first four looked like (click to enlarge in a new window; names and phone numbers are concealed; the first listing is an example, not an actual person; red boxes are mine):

OFA110109CallList

The red boxes are around questions asking for the person’s e-mail address and when they plan to vote.

So, now yours truly, a perfect stranger from outside of New York’s 23rd Congressional District, knows the Name, Phone Number, Age, and Gender of 25 residents of NY-23.

Because the e-mail I received is part of a large orchestrated campaign, an undetermined but far from small number of perfect strangers predominantly from outside of New York’s 23rd Congressional District will know this information about hundreds — if not thousands — of residents of NY-23.

Additionally, if I were to carry out the calls (which I of course will not), I would have the cell phone number, e-mail address, and planned voting time of any person in the group of 25 who responds to my request for that information.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see what could happen, but I guess I need to draw a picture for old Mitch:

  • With a person’s e-mail addy and cell number, a spammer can put them on every junk mail and calling list there is.
  • Thanks to Internet phone directories, criminals can do reverse searches on phone numbers and learn where these people live. By asking a few additional questions, they can learn who lives alone. If they also learn when they won’t be home (i.e., out voting) and live reasonably close, they can steal them blind while they’re away.
  • Even more scary, a violent criminal can use answers to OFA’s official questions combined with other information they might learn through probing to commit violent acts when these people ARE home.

Of course, some of this can happen any time people get access to a call list. But most similar political efforts are carried out locally at the grass-roots level by people who largely know each other. These efforts don’t typically involve knowing someone’s age, and almost certainly don’t involve intrusions like asking for e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers.

OFA has no effective controls over the type of people it is engaging to make calls on its behalf. It doesn’t even necessarily know who they really are. As far as I can tell, anyone can provide a false name to OFA, set up an e-mail address, provide a bogus phone number (or someone else’s), become a NY-23 caller, and do whatever they want with the info they gather.

What’s more, the average age of the 25 people on my list was 75, including someone listed as being 109 years old, along with several others listed as being over 90.

So here’s the exit question: If OFA is working from a list of registered voters, is it hoping, once it receives reports from its callers, to find out who among them is no longer among us — so they can find someone to vote on their behalf?

____________________________________________

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit’s post on Patrick Gaspard’s involvement in NY-23 makes the concerns expressed above less difficult to imagine.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to a commenter’s nudge, I looked at the online form an OFA caller would complete after a call (boxes added by me; click to enlarge) –

OFAonlineNY23CallForm1109

Note the presumptuous “neighbor” language. More importantly, note the instant feedback OFA could receive that person is deceased.

_________________________________________________________

UPDATE 3: A reminder — OFA, in its previous incarnation as Obama for America, had lots of experience working with anonymous people, especially in taking their campaign money, deliberately leaving no tracks.

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36 Comments

  1. [...] ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA’S last-ditch NY-23 campaign. [...]

    Pingback by Instapundit » Blog Archive » ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA’S last-ditch NY-23 campaign…. — November 2, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  2. Well, I hope you at least sent back a “positive” hit list for each of the contacts (thus eliminating them from their contact list!).

    Comment by jeanneb — November 2, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  3. Not to distract from the very real concerns you raise, just wondering about a few other issues:

    Does Mitch get paid at the Craig’s List advertised rates?

    Ditto any “reimbursements” to the “volunteer” caller?

    If so, are the “reimbursements” funded by taxpayer-dollars Congress granted to a “non-profit” community organization?

    If so, are calls to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck counted for reimbursements to Mitch and his “volunteer”?

    And, for those reimbursements (if any), do the recipients report those payments on their tax return?

    Are we in Kansas, yet?

    Comment by TParty4USA — November 2, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  4. #3, thanks to these clowns, we’re on another planet.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 10:33 am

  5. I think you’re getting a little over excited about this. They aren’t revealing any information that isn’t already easily available through public record searches. This voter info can be reviewed by anyone who goes to the court house in most states/counties.

    The truth is that these people are probably the voters that they have not already been able to classify – anyone who they *know* is voting D in this election will be called by local vols. working a phone bank – OFA could care less if they get good data out of this, and probably expects people to monkey with the results they submit.

    Comment by Josh A. — November 2, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  6. There are much, much easier ways for spammers and criminals to get voter records and email addresses than to use the OFA interface.

    If your point is that criminals do bad things, that’s very true.

    Comment by Gary Payton — November 2, 2009 @ 10:47 am

  7. Be afraid people. Be very afraid.

    Comment by mkj — November 2, 2009 @ 10:57 am

  8. #2, there are good reasons not to do that, but thanks for the nudge to look at the form that people would see. See Update 2.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  9. #5, you haven’t explained away getting e-mail addys and cellphone numbers. And the kind of public records search you’re describing generally requires personal effort, a subscription, a per-use fee, or a combo of these.

    #6, on a one-on-one basis, it doesn’t get any easier, and potentially untraceable, than this.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  10. Don’t call, of course, but be sure and return ‘results’ for all 25 members of the list you received. This has two benefits:

    1. 25 folks who WON’T be called by actual OFA minions.

    2. Any deceased members of the list will be registered in the OFA database as living.

    Comment by skipkent — November 2, 2009 @ 11:12 am

  11. Well, bear one thing in mind: the only reason why OFA has these numbers in the first place is because the graverobbers in DC have lists with millions of names and email addresses that they have been selling each other since the Direct Mail days in the Seventies.

    Obama merely took it to the next level. The Republicans will respond in kind.

    Comment by section9 — November 2, 2009 @ 11:28 am

  12. #11, Unless you’re inside OFA, you don’t know where they got their list(s), and really shouldn’t pretend to.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  13. #10, perhaps that might be a project for Wednesday, but see #8 and #2.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  14. Oh my god! You’ve discovered a Get Out The Vote technique used since 2004!

    Using online tools to distribute call lists and then collect GOTV information were used by both the Kerry and Bush campaigns in 2004 and have become widespread ever since.

    Asking for email addresses/cell phone numbers to stay in contact with “1″ and “2″ voters, those clearly expressing support or strongly leaning for your candidate, is also standard.

    I think you’ve been hearing too many black helicopters over head. Relax, this is SOP for any modern campaign.

    Comment by Allen Funt — November 2, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  15. #14, sorry, no it’s not “SOP.” You can’t explain away asking people to give away e-mail addys and cellphone numbers to perfect strangers whom the campaign has no real control over and who are predominantly from outside of the district. That is NOT SOP — except maybe on Planet Obamula.

    You can drag out any number of “examples” from other campaigns, but NOTHING will change the fact that, unlike other calling efforts, ANYONE can conduct these calls, and NO ONE at OFA has ANY idea who they really are.

    Your “black helicopter” taunt is SOP for someone who’s out of arguments. Bleep you.

    I’ll be sure to send your regards to the 109 year-old.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  16. Was Deceased

    In which case because it takes the precincts some time to remove them from the rolls ( in my father’s case it was two years and was only done because I noticed his name on the roll and pointed it out ) you can send someone to the poll to vote in their place.

    Comment by alan — November 2, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  17. [...] Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23 [...]

    Pingback by WH Political Director, Patrick Gaspard Behind Scozzafava’s Owens Endorsement « Nice Deb — November 2, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

  18. Good luck with that OFA.
    Even here in the hinterlands of upsate NY we have all them new fangled gizmos like caller ID and sech. If’n I don’t know you, I ain’t answering the damned phone, bub.
    One of the reasons phone polls don’t work so well is because most of us NEVER answer 800 area callers and almost never for anyone else we don’t know.
    Even the rare Democrat in NY 23 isn’t necessarily that stupid.

    Comment by B Dubya — November 2, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  19. So #5, let me get this straight. If someone wants to know when you will be gone from home to vote, they can just go to the courthouse and look that up. That’s quite a revelation. I didn’t know such information was even knowable when registering to vote, much less required disclosure.

    Comment by willis — November 2, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  20. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom_Blumer: Bizzy: Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23: Organizing for Am… http://bit.ly/3G7bgH...

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — November 2, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  21. What an odd choice for “I did not speak to voter”: deceased.

    The Dems may already have their lists of deceased voters they pass back and forth, but this brings any of those lists reliably up-to-date.

    Comment by Mondo — November 2, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

  22. I attended a luncheon for the DNC financial chair recently and OFA leaders were there with her. They told the group that OFA was founded from Organizing for America because upon winning the election, Barack Obama gave ALL of his fundraising lists and volunteer lists to OFA. OFA is Barack Obama and it now has offices in all 50 states. I’ve been telling people for months that OFA is the new ACORN. Our “community organizer” is indeed “transforming America.”

    Comment by Elesa Hawk — November 2, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  23. NY 23 would probably be a good case study for voter fraud after this election is over. It is small enough. I wonder if we could get some kind of funding together to get the legal help to do it? Kind of like Climate Audit took donations to have tree ring samples processed by a lab?

    Comment by moptop — November 2, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

  24. Or we could do a surfacestations.org type effort to at least establish which voters who voted were alive at the time. That should be totally public record.

    Comment by moptop — November 2, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  25. By small enough, I mean that each town where people vote is made up of people who largely know each other, unlike major urban centers, like, for example, St Louis, where polls where held open for extra hours in ACORN heavy districs so everybody got a chance to “vote”. I live near NY-23. I understand that congressional districts are roughly of uniform size in terms of numbers.

    Comment by moptop — November 2, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  26. Final word. In Gildebrand’s district nearby, the recount was decided by absentee votes that predominantly came from another district, oddly enough.

    Comment by moptop — November 2, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  27. #25, thanks for the input and ideas. Do you have a link for the Gillebrand situation?

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

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  29. Why not falsely register 10 or so of the 25 people as “deceased” so that when (not if) OFA gets someone to vote for them, it could raise a red flag on the whole debacle when a living person goes to vote and they tell him he can’t because he already voted.

    Comment by mthorn10 — November 2, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  30. I misread the original article on NY 20. Sorry. However, it is interesting to note, as 538.com did, that Murphy, the Democrat, enjoyed a “systematic” advantage in absentee ballots.

    Comment by moptop — November 2, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  31. Dang, sorry http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/battle-of-saratoga-wont-save-tedisco.html

    Comment by moptop — November 2, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  32. #29, I guess the question is whether it’s “absentee” under the pre-2004 definition or if it’s “early voting,” which is subject to much more abuse, because you don’t need a justification to vote early.

    Traditional absentee votes generally favor the GOP. Early voting tends to favor ACORN-assisted Dems.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 2, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  33. [...] Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23 [...]

    Pingback by The Obama White House & The Privacy Act | Be John Galt — November 2, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

  34. [...] Bizzyblog: Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23 Organizing For America’s nationally-orchestrated, last-ditch, get-out-the-vote campaign in NY-23 [...]

    Pingback by Election Fraud in the Land of Hope and Change : Conservative Nation — November 3, 2009 @ 2:31 am

  35. [...] Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23: UPDATE 2: Thanks to a commenter’s nudge, I looked at the online form an OFA caller would [...]

    Pingback by Voter Fraud: Dead People Rule | DBKP - Death By 1000 Papercuts - DBKP — November 3, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  36. [...]Organizing for America Potential Privacy Invasion, Robbery, Vote Fraud, and Worse in NY-23[...]

    Comment by Newsmediaspan — November 5, 2009 @ 6:27 am

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