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Utah bill advances to prevent posting voter rolls online

Unanimous » Would allow exceptions for political parties, journalists, researchers.

First Published Feb 18 2014 01:44 pm • Last Updated Feb 18 2014 11:02 pm

The Senate passed a bill Tuesday aiming to prevent the online posting of personal information from Utah’s voter-registration rolls, but it still would allow access by political parties, journalists and researchers.

Meanwhile, a tougher bill — which could allow voters to check a box to entirely cut off public access to their data on the rolls such as birth date, address, phone number and party affiliation — has been advancing in the House.

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The Senate voted 26-0 on Tuesday to pass SB36, the less restrictive bill by Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, and sent it to the House.

She began pushing it after news stories about how the website UTvoters.com put detailed personal information online after buying the voter-registration database for $1,050 from the lieutenant governor’s office.

Mayne read a letter from a constituent saying, "We need our federal, state and local governments to assume responsibility for protecting the information they require us to submit to them."

The bill bars anyone other than government employees or officials from reproducing the voter rolls, or using them for commercial purposes for soliciting money. It makes exceptions for political, scholarly, journalistic or government uses of the list.

Meanwhile, a House committee recently approved HB302 by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, to allow voters to choose to make all their voting registration records private, and removes the birth date and age from any records that remain public.

The Utah Media Coalition opposes it. It contends that could hurt the ability of journalists and activist groups to search for voter fraud, such as dead people voting or people voting in more than one location.

Some victims of domestic violence support Perry’s bill. They say making their information private without exception will help prevent abusers from using voter rolls to find them.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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