What started out as an apparent good faith effort by Senator Karen Mayne to protect voters’ personal identifying information has turned into a raid on the state’s voter data base by professional business and media lobbyists and political party officials.
Senators who unanimously passed Mayne’s bill without reading it carefully appear to have defined the proper role of government as selling the personal identifying information of citizens rather than protecting it.
And Senators also seemed to be telling Utahns that “The price of pursuing your constitutional right to vote is allowing the government to sell your personal information to powerful business, political and media interests so they can benefit from it.”
As passed by the Senate and further amended by a House committee, Mayne’s “voter protection” bill (SB36S03) allows almost everyone, everywhere to obtain the personal identifying information 1.5 million Utah registered voters with the possible exception of two nomadic families in Mongolia’s Gobi desert who have lost the satellite internet connection to their laptops.
Mayne’s bill was originally designed to prevent the use of the voter list for commercial purposes. However, the bill allows the list to be used for political, journalistic, scholarly or governmental purposes. Thus, utvoters.com will still be able to buy and publish the Utah voter list since utvoters.com has morphed into a political website fighting against underage drinking laws and internet censorship.
Before the bill got out of the Senate, the Utah Media Coalition’s elite lobbyists managed to amend it in order to allow “researchers” to purchase the personal identifying information of 1.5 million Utahns. According to an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune, “researchers” includes “everyone.”
Once “everyone” has the list, they can throw the personal identifying information of over a million Utahns in the trashcan and “everyone” can also sell their personal computers with the voter information intact on hard drives.
Even the limitation on the use of the voter list for commercial purposes was compromised.
Pollsters maintained their access to the list so they could continue to use it to earn income by conducting surveys.
Then, lobbyists for financial institutions, insurance companies, health care providers, and LexisNexis amended the bill twice in order to get full access for their clients to the personal identifying information of every registered voter in Utah.
This takeover of Mayne’s bill by special interests makes it clear that Utahns have to take control of their personal identifying information because powerful special interests are experts at getting it once it is in the hands of the state.
But it goes even further than that because until those in power take the unwavering position that the proper role of government is to protect the personal identifying information of citizens and not to sell it, no citizen is safe.
Voters will have to be ready cancel their voter registrations and unregistered voters will have to continue to refuse to register to vote unless HB302S01, which passed the House 71-2, is passed exactly as written by the Senate and signed by the governor. (HB302S01 makes birth dates a private record and allows voters to make their entire voter records private based on their own personal risk assessment.)
Parents who already are afraid that Common Core data bases will be accessed by businesses, governmental entities and even the media have all the more reason to be concerned given the power that the lobbyist of these powerful groups exercised to maintain their access to the voter data base through Mayne’s bill. Parents cannot have confidence that government or governmental entities will protect their children’s information.
Other Utahn’s also have to operate under the assumption that any personal identifying information they give the state will eventually be obtained by business, the media and/or political interests and they will have to determine whether the benefits the state provides are worth the risks incurred.
Finally, all Utahns have to ask whether political, media and business interests have too much influence when they are able to compromise the citizens’ right to vote and to put innocent Utahns’ personal safety and security at risk.