Want to stop the state from selling your voter registration information? Here’s how.
By Ronald Mortensen / May 21, 2018
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. In fact, the personal information of roughly 1.8 million Utah registered voters can already be found 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 register to vote. When asked “Would you like to make your record private,” click on “Yes.”
If you are already registered to vote, update your voter registration information and make your record private by clicking on “Yes.”
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.
How do I remove my records that were previously sold by the state from voterrecords.com?
According to voterrecords.com:
We respect your privacy and have a simple way for those wishing to remove some of their public records data from appearing on VoterRecords.com.
Step 1: Search for a person [by clicking here and then entering your info in the Search Filters on the left.]
Step 2: Click on the person’s name in the search results, this will take you to the individual’s detailed record page.
Step 3: Scroll to the very bottom of the page and click the Record Opt-Out link. This will take you to the opt-out form specific to that record.
Step 4: Once the form is submitted we will send you an email with a verification link that you will need to click to verify your opt-out request. (Not everyone will receive the verification email. If you do not receive the email this typically means your record was successfully processed without additional verification being needed.)
Once you have done this, data such as: house number, phone, and email address should no longer appear. Make sure to refresh the page and clear your browser cache if you are still seeing the data after you have completed these steps.
Please remember that all voter records appearing on VoterRecords.com are public record and can be obtained directly from the government by anyone at anytime. Removing information from VoterRecords.com has no effect on the official records the government maintains and releases. [Therefore, unless you make your voter record private, the state will sell it to voterrecords.com and voterrecords.com may add it to their list even if you have previously removed it.]
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