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Senate panel: political party interests trump domestic violence victims' safety

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On February 4, the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee unanimously approved SB3601 sponsored by Senator Karen Mayne.

The bill requires the state to continue selling the personal information of 1.5 million Utah registered voters but prohibits posting it to the internet or using it for commercial purposes.

The Utah voter list includes the first, last and middle name; month day and year of birth; address; phone number; party affiliation; voter identification number; voting record and other information for every registered voter with the exception of certain political elites whose names are removed for the list before it is sold.

Senator Margaret Dayton, who previously ensured the voters’ birth dates would be posted to the internet, chaired the committee.

Committee members turned a deaf ear to warnings that the bill allows the continued sale of the personal identifying information of people who need to keep their information private - domestic violence victims, witnesses in criminal trials, vulnerable senior citizens, people at risk of identity theft, law enforcement officers, etc.

Senators Dayton, Mayne and Luz Robles voted for the bill as did all four male members of the committee (Lyle Hillyard, Brian Shiozawa, Daniel Thatcher, and Kevin Van Tassell).

The bill authorizes journalists to publish the private information of any voter on the list including that of domestic violence victims, law enforcement officials, the General Authorities of the LDS Church, Utah Supreme Court Justices, witness in criminal trials, etc. (lines 138-140)

The list can be used to solicit a donation for political or governmental purposes. (lines 141-2) and it can be used to conduct a survey (poll) for political, scholarly, journalistic, or governmental purposes. (143-45)

Unlimited copies of the voter list, either in hard copy or electronically, can be made for political, journalistic, scholarly or government purposes. (lines 146-48)

The bill does not require those purchasing the list to securely handle it, secure it when not in use or properly dispose of it by shredding or erasure.

Political candidates like John Swallow and political consultants from Karl Rove to Jason Powers will have full access to millions of Utahns’ personal information including that of the victims of domestic violence.

Locally, Paul Rolly will be able to use information gleaned from the list and nationally Fox News and MSNBC journalists will be able to purchase the list.

And since the list may be purchased and used for governmental purposes, the NSA and other governmental intelligence agencies can save time and money by purchasing it from the state for the reasonable fee of $1,050.

The Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee has clearly chosen to put the personal privacy and personal security of Utahns at risk in order to serve the interests of their parties, their own personal political careers and the media.

Registered voters who do not agree with what the Senate committee did can contact Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and give him constructive suggestions for improving SB3601. Phone: 801-538-1035; E-Mail: wniederhauser@le.utah.gov.

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