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Mayne’s attempt to authorize media to publish voters’ personal info hits snag

Key Points:

  • Mayne’s voter protection bill mandates the state to sell the entire voter list to politicians and their camp followers, journalists, scholars and governments.
  • Mayne’s bill authorizes the media to publish the personal information of all voters.
  • Mayne’s bill allows those receiving the voter list to make unlimited paper and electronic copies and to dispose of them without shredding or erasing.
  • Revisions to Mayne's bill will only be effective if they focus on protecting voters rather than on mandating the sale of voters’ personal information for political and journalistic purposes.

Just one day after the Utah State Senate unanimously advance Senator Karen Mayne’s so-called voter protection bill (SB36) to the Third Reading Calendar, she stood on the Senate floor and told fellow Senators, “I heard loud and clear from my Senators and my constituents. I am going to circle (hold) this bill and we’re looking to make it tighter.”

Just a day earlier, the Senate had voted unanimously to move Mayne’s bill forward in spite of the fact that it requires the state of Utah to continue to sell the personal information of 1.5 million registered voters for political, journalistic, academic and governmental purposes.

During Senate debate on the bill, Mayne was forced to acknowledge that her bill authorizes the news media to publish the personal identifying information of all Utah registered voters without any restrictions or penalties. This includes voters’ names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, party affiliation and voting record.

When asked directly by Senator Todd Weiler if the bill authorized the media to publish the records of domestic violence victims, LDS General Authorities, judges and others, after first saying she had no answer, Mayne acknowledged that that is exactly what the bill does.

When Weiler asked Mayne if the bill allowed those authorized to receive the voter list to make unlimited print and electronic copies of 1.5 million voters’ personal information, Mayne initially said that political parties could do so. When pushed by Weiler, she was forced to admit that journalists, scholars and governments could also obtain and make unlimited copies of the list.

In addition, Mayne’s bill does not require those receiving the lists to protect them from unauthorized disclosure or to shred paper copies and erase or otherwise destroy electronic copies.

Mayne has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to domestic violence victims and other citizens as she has pressed forward with what some have called her “Political Hacks and Media Dream Act.”

When an attempt was made by a third party to set up a meeting between Senator Mayne and a domestic violence victim who was concerned about the lack of protection offered by SB36, Mayne replied: “I think I know your concerns. We had a lengthy conversation about this Do you have anything else to add?” The meeting never took place.

Over the next few days, Mayne’s bill will be revised. When it once again comes to the floor, voters will be able to see if their privacy, safety and security are Mayne’s major concerns or if she is more concerned about giving their information to the parties, political consultants, pollsters, college professors, the media and to the NSA and other governmental entities. Here are some things to look for:

1. Does Mayne’s bill protect the birth dates of private individuals from being made public?

2. Does the bill lock up voters’ private information unless they authorize its release for any purpose?

3. Does Mayne’s bill prohibit the media from publishing or otherwise making voters’ personal information public?

4. Does the bill require anyone receiving copies of the voter list to protect it and does it impose severe penalties for failing to do so?

5. Does Mayne’s revised bill give LexisNexis access to voters’ personal information?

6. Has the penalty for posting the voter list to the internet been enhanced or is it still a misdemeanor?