Investigation launched into ‘unsolicited’ election e-mails

  • Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge

    Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge

An investigation has been launched regarding unsolicited e-mails from the Progressive Labour Party to voters.

In a letter sent to the One Bermuda Alliance, obtained by The Royal Gazette, Parliamentary Registrar Tenia Woolridge said she was investigating the issue which related to “complaints received by the OBA”.

Lynne Woolridge, chairwoman of the OBA, said that a data breach within the Parliamentary Registrar’s system had “clearly” taken place.

She said that an OBA staff member used the Parliamentary Registrar’s online platform to register a number of new voters. A single e-mail address was used for several people who did not have their own.

“The e-mails from the Progressive Labour Party were sent to the e-mail address that was in no way connected to the voters,” she said.

“We are aware of at least a hundred other instances of such occurrences and the actual number is likely to be in the thousands.”

In her letter to the OBA, Tenia Woolridge said: “I can confirm that as Parliamentary Registrar I have given no authorisation to anyone to share voter contact information.

“Neither am I aware of how this information could have been obtained by persons outside of the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office.

“Accordingly, I have commenced an investigation into the matters set out in your correspondence and once concluded I will advise you of the outcome.”

Asked for comment on the investigation at a press conference yesterday morning, David Burt, Leader of the Opposition, said that he had already addressed the matter.

A party spokeswoman referred to a statement sent to ZBM last week, and provided to this paper yesterday afternoon.

“The Progressive Labour Party communicates with voters from the information it receives from the Parliamentary Registrar,” the statement said.

“Any communication from the PLP has an option to unsubscribe from receiving e-mails and voters who do not wish to hear from us are encouraged to use it.”

Asked how the party came to possess e-mail information, Mr Burt said it came from the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office.

“We contact voters on the doorstep, we contact them by e-mail, by phone — and that information is received from the Parliamentary Registrar’s Office.”

Lynne Woolridge said the investigation was “absolutely” the right course of action.

“The people of Bermuda deserve an explanation,” she said.

“This is not acceptable in a modern democracy and in no way should be condoned.”

Meanwhile, the OBA’s use of social media advertisements arose at an OBA press conference yesterday.

Asked whether he had anything to say to frustrated members of the public, Michael Dunkley, the Premier, responded: “On July 19, they can go back to not being bombarded by social media and go back to what they were trying to look at.”

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