Want to stop the state from selling your voter registration information? Here’s how.
By Dr. Ronald Mortensen / Columnist at UtahStandardNews.com / Oct 9, 2019
This column 1) describes how the state of Utah sells its voters’ personal information, 2) looks at 2018 legislation that allows voters to protect their personal information, 3) explains how voters can request that their records be made private and 4) describes how to get their personal information off of voterrecords.com. Every Utah voter should take the steps described in sections 3 and 4 to protect their personal identifying information.
The state of Utah sells its registered voters’ personal information
Most Utah voters don’t know that the state of Utah and Utah’s county clerks are required by law to sell the personal information of all registered voters—voter identification number; first, middle, and last name; voter status (active or inactive); absentee status; original registration date; party affiliation; phone number (if provided by voter); mailing and residence address, voter participation history; and method of participation (absentee, by mail, normal, etc.).
Nor do they know that certain entities including political parties, or an agent, employee, or independent contractor of a political party, candidates for office, financial institutions, health care providers and insurance companies are authorized to purchase the month and year of birth of registered voters along with all of their other personal information.
The state, therefore, sells the entire Utah Voter Database with the records of over a million and a half Utah registered voters for $1,050—after removing the Governor’s personal information. Once purchasers have the voters’ information, they can do whatever they want with it including tracking down the victims of domestic violence who may have changed their addresses, accessing teenagers’ private information or even posting the entire list, less the month and year of birth, to the Internet so literally billions of people around the world can access it. In fact, the personal information of roughly 1.9 million Utah registered voters is currently on voterrecords.com.
2018 legislature finally made it possible for registered voters to protect their personal information.
For over five years, I worked with Representative Becky Edwards (R), who unsuccessfully ran bill after bill designed to protect voters’ personal information. Our efforts were always stymied by the state’s two major political parties and powerful business interests who insisted that if voters wanted to exercise their right to vote, they had to give them their personal information.
Finally, in 2018, two election related bills, SB74 and HB218 were passed with provisions making it possible for Utah voters to request that their voter registration records be made private. Both bills passed the House and the Senate unanimously and were signed by the governor.
In addition to Representative Edwards, the following legislators played a key role in making it possible for Utah voters to exercise both their right to vote and their right to privacy: Senator Karen Mayne (D), Senator Deidre Henderson (R), Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D), Representative Sue Duckworth (D), Representative Karianne Lisonbee (R), and Representative Norm Thurston (R).
Salt Lake County Clerk, Sherrie Swensen (D) also worked diligently to give voters the right to make their voter registration a private record.
So, how do I make my voter registration record private?
If you are NOT already registered to vote, go to the state website and click on Register to Vote (https://secure.utah.gov/voterreg/login.html?selection=REGISTER). When asked “Would you like to make your record private,” click on “Yes.”
If you are ALREADY registered to vote, go to the state website and click on Update Voter Information (https://secure.utah.gov/voterreg/login.html?selection=UPDATE). Then make your record private by clicking on “Yes” under the section labeled “Private Voter Registration Record.”
If you are completing a paper form to register to vote, when asked on the form “Would you like to make your record private, check “Yes.”
If you do not want to change your voter registration information on the state’s website, you can go to your County Clerk’s office and have them help you make your voter registration record private.
How do I remove my records from voterrecords.com?
First, go to https://voterrecords.com/voters/ut/1 and look up your record. If you find your record, go to https://voterrecords.com/contact and paste the text of the following e-mail in the Message box.
Subject: Please delete my entire voter record from your site
Utah code 20A-2-104 allows Utahns to make their voter registration private. I have now made my voter registration private. Therefore, please delete my entire record from your site since it is no longer a public record.
Record to be removed:
Utah code 20A-2-104(1) states: “You may request that your voter registration record be classified as a private record by indicating here: ____Yes, I would like to request that my voter registration record be classified as a private record.”
Utah code 20A-2-104(4)(d) states: The lieutenant governor or a county clerk may not disclose the voter registration form of a person, or information included in the person’s voter registration form, whose voter registration form is classified as private under Subsection (4)(f) to a person other than a government official or government employee acting in the government official’s or government employee’s capacity as a government official or government employee.
Utah code 20A-2-104(4)(f) states: The lieutenant governor or a county clerk shall classify the voter registration record of a voter as a private record if the voter:
(i) submits a written application, created by the lieutenant governor, requesting that the voter’s voter registration record be classified as private; or
(ii) requests on the voter’s voter registration form that the voter’s voter registration record be classified as a private record
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