Sunday, May 21, 2017


By Juan Montoya
No one is saying how or why it happened, but some Cameron County officials have confirmed that a server containing the Elections Department voters' information was sold inadvertently at a public auction and may now be in the hands of an unknown buyer who in turn bought it at a Brownsville flea market.

There are close to 200,000 registered voters in the county and it is unknown if the server contained all their information in its memories or drives.

The officials said that a mix up between the IT Dept. and  the Elections Office resulted in the server containing the information of county voters – names, addresses, birth dates, etc. – being sold at auction and later, to an unknown buyer at a local flea market. The sources did not indicate what other information may be in the machine.

As of Friday, emails from the Cameron County Judge's Office to other elected county officials alerted them to the problem. County sources indicate that a meeting to discuss the issue and try to locate the server with the voters' personal data.

County Commissioner Alex Dominguez confirmed that a meeting was held with IT and Elections Office personnel where the matter was discussed. 

"We don't know how people found out the server contained the data," Dominguez said. "It might just be voter registration data. Normally that info can be purchased, but we are looking into it. I don't think the date indicated who voted for whom. Sound like the info we use to block walk."

Cameron County Clerk Sylvia Garza-Perez said that the server was first used in the Tax Assessor-Collector's Office and then cleaned of that information by IT personnel who then passed it on to the Elections Office.

"Normally, the IT Dept. cleans all the computers and servers when they are sent to auction," she said. "We don't know how this one didn't get cleaned before it was declared salvage and sold at auction."

Dominguez said that the server may have been sold a few years back. Current county policy is to wipe everything and sometimes the computers and servers are sold without the hard drives and memories.We have IT looking at logs from back then. Looks like it may have been sold a number of years back. We're are now trying to find out who dropped the ball."

Both Dominguez and Garza-Perez said they didn't know how the county officials were alerted to the fact that the server contained the voter data. 


Anonymous said...

As a current IT technician, this is inexcusable in every way. If used computers/copy machines/printers/faxes/servers are being resold and/or giving out. Besides just cleaning out the hard drive, you need to REMOVE IT and keep it. While anyone can clean a hard drive with free tools in the internet, if someone with sufficient knowledge and intent, can easily recover the data. Best is to keep the hard drive and physically destroy it. That is what I do at my current job to avoid any data leaking out. A criminal investigation should be look into this since this involves personal data of county voters that may be used in identity theft. This is something serious and the county should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

If they don't know where they are and who has them, and it was really unintentional, then how did somebody know to alert them that it happened and they weren't wiped? If it were truly accidental and nobody knew, then the only way to find out would be if somebody purchased it/them and reports it.

This sounds like a setup and somebody reported it after the fact to make it appear like it was unintentional to cover their asses. And what better time than when certain people are worried about their asses not being in office after next year.

Anonymous said...

Everything is possible
Possible that it's just a maybe
Fake news, a little slow weekend huh

Anonymous said...

Another example of inefficiency in local government. Where there is money to be made (selling the information on the server) someone in the county will be corrupt enough to sell the information. We don't just accept corruption in Cameron County, we demand corruption. Probably on serious investigation to protect the other "skeletons in the closet"....sort of like the way county officials protected Aurora de la Garza's son, Joey, when he stole over a hundred thousand dollars from a local non-profit hospice. Again, the public must suffer to protect corrupt officials.

Anonymous said...

That Juan guy director of the IT dept is the one to question.