Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Editor column: Utahns have an interest in keeping voter registration records public

By Lisa Carricaburu

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jan 17 2014 09:11 am • Last Updated Jan 18 2014 08:39 pm

The Salt Lake Tribune in recent weeks has received a number of telephone calls and emails from readers concerned about utvoters.com, a privately operated website that makes Utah voter-registration records available to the public for free.

Indignation expressed by voters unhappy those searchable records include detailed personal information such as birth dates, addresses, political party affiliations and dates on which ballots were cast has prompted state Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, to sponsor legislation that would restrict access to the records, which under state law are public and can be purchased from the lieutenant governor’s office for $1,050.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Mayne’s SB36, if passed by the 2014 Legislature, would limit access to the records to those seeking them for "political, scholarly, journalistic or governmental purposes." Posting the records online, reproducing them in print or any other format or using them for commercial purposes or to harass someone would be a class B misdemeanor, according to the bill.

"We have to make voters secure," Mayne told The Tribune last week.

It’s understandable that utvoters.com raises concerns, even prompting some Utahns to suggest they won’t register to vote unless the law changes.

But as always when government records are involved, the goal must be to balance individuals’ right to privacy with the public’s right to information.

Despite privacy concerns, Utahns have a very real interest in voter information remaining public.

The Tribune, on the public’s behalf, routinely advocates for open government. We want government records to remain public so journalists and the public at large can monitor them and when necessary, use the information we collect to hold our government accountable.

With regard to voter-registration records in particular, keeping them public safeguards the integrity of our voting system and protects against voter fraud. Independent examination and verification of those records is the surest way to determine registered voters are real people who’ve properly registered and are voting in the districts where they live.

Utah currently faces few allegations of voter fraud, but it is cited as a concern in some states where proponents say new or proposed voter identification laws aim to prevent fraud. In those states, access to voter-registration records for verification purposes is as important to those who see fraud as a problem as it is to those who believe such laws are little more than an attempt to disenfranchise elderly, poor and minority voters.


story continues below
story continues below

The Tribune will follow Mayne’s proposal as it advances. As with any attempt to impose new restrictions on public records, the devil may be in the details.

As always, we will do our part to ensure the public retains access to information needed to hold government accountable.

Lisa Carricaburu is managing editor. She can be reached at lisac@sltrib.com or on Twitter, @lcarricaburu.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.