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Lawmakers pass bill to make voter information more private

Published March 14, 2014 7:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Lawmakers passed a compromise bill to increase the privacy of voter-registration records. The House and Senate unanimously passed SB36, which outlines prohibited uses of the voter registry, makes changes to who can access voter birth dates and allows people to make their voter information private

The bill resulted from reports that UTvoters.com had posted the full Utah voter registry online.

"We had a huge firestorm that the media grabbed a hold of and spread the word throughout the state of Utah and every member of this House got emails from people saying please protect my records," said Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, the floor sponsor.

Some examples of banned uses of voter data are: selling the information or access to it, using the data to make or sell products, or harassment. The bill also makes misuse of information for the registry a class B misdemeanor and imposes a fine based on the number of records involved. For example, the misuse of one million records would warrant a $30,000 fine.

Under the proposal, Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, email addresses and dates of birth would be protected and not available to the public. Political parties, health-care providers, insurance agencies, financial institutions, government entities and other qualified parties would be able to access voters' date of birth on the records.

Voters would also be able to request that their information be kept private if they believed its release would threaten their life or safety. A voter would have to physically go the lieutenant governor's office or a county clerk's office to make that case.

Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, said the bill is not perfect, but it moves in the right direction.

"It is a considerable improvement over the current system where we are vulnerable to having our voter information spread upon the Internet and everywhere else," Draxler said.

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