Texas election officials: Loophole could expose your private ballot voting information

DALLAS - Texas election officials admit there is a way voters' private ballot information could be exposed publicly.

The Secretary of State's Office recently issued emergency guidance as it seeks to fix the loophole.

This issue emerged in part after a news outlet shared what it claims was the ballot of a state political figure. But it's also looking at allegations a second method by way of an algorithm might be used to connect the dots to identify who you voted for.

At a Texas House elections hearing in Austin this week, state election officials answered questions about how a Texan's private vote could go public.

"In limited circumstances, through publicly available information, you may be able to identify the civic person's ballot," admitted Christina Adkins, the election division director for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.

The issue got the attention of lawmakers after a report in late May from the conservative news site, ‘Current Revolt,’ reportedly identified the ballot of former Texas Republican Party Chair Matt Rinaldi.

The Texas Secretary of State's Office says a person might be able to obtain public records and, through a process of elimination, connect the dots and identify a person's ballot.

It says it's most likely in elections with low turnout.

Election officials note more data is publicly available, and it's on the rise in the wake of election transparency pushes since the 2020 election.

"We have a number of counties that in the interest of transparency, because of the laws we have and because of this push for auditability and transparency, have been proactively publishing a lot of election records that are public," Adkins said.

Last week, state election officials issued emergency guidance to local election offices, seeking to cut back on what information is released.

The attorney general's office also issued an opinion, stressing the importance of redacting any personal information.

But election officials say it's all a short-term fix.

Lawmakers will likely consider legislation in next year's session to further plug any gaps.

"We're going to have balance what some people think is the confidentiality and secrecy of the ballot along with making sure the integrity," said State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller). "But I hope we err on the side of confidentiality."

State officials are also being sued by a group which says it has an algorithm that can match a person's ballot with their identity.

But state officials say they haven't been able to get their hands on the algorithm to vet it and see if that's true.