- Politicians who allowed the personal information of 1.5 million Utah voters to be posted to the internet are now proposing legislation that guarantees their continuing access to this information.
- A bill proposed by Senator Karen Mayne requires the state to turn the personal information of all 1.5 million registered voters over to political parties, scholars, journalists and government entities without any notice to voters that this information is being released, without a voter’s prior consent, and without any means for voters to prevent the release of their personal information.
- The legislation provides no protection for the personal information of millions of registered voters once it is in the hands of political parties, journalists, scholars and government agencies.
Politicians Scramble to Maintain Their Access to Voters’ Personal Identifying Information
The posting of the personal information of 1.5 million registered Utah voters to the internet has politicians who have consistently opposed all efforts to protect the personal information of their constituents scrambling to maintain their unfettered access to it while giving the illusion of protecting it.
Senator Karen Mayne (D) has introduced legislation that guarantees the Democrat and Republican parties, their candidates and their political consultants such as Jason Powers, continued access to the personal identifying information of all 1.5 million Utah voters – with the exception of that of certain political elites.
This information includes the voters’ full names, addresses, phone numbers, party affiliation, and month day and year of birth. It also shows which elections the voters voted in but not who they voted for.
The bill does prohibit voter lists from being used for commercial purposes or for harassing any person. And it prohibits the lists from being copied or posted to the internet unless done for a political, scholarly, journalistic or governmental purpose.
A close analysis of the bill reveals that it is designed to give voters a false sense of security whereas in reality it offers no protection of their personal information from improper handling or disclosure by those authorized to have the lists.
Voters Not Notified That Information Will Be Sold or Allowed to Lock It Up
Mayne’s bill does not require the state to notify voters at the time they register, or when they vote, that their personal identifying information is a public record and that it will be sold by the state.
The bill does not allow voters to have their personal identifying information (first, middle and last name, address, phone number, month day and year of birth, party affiliation, voting history) excluded from the lists that are sold.
Under Mayne’s bill, government agencies and their contractors can continue to use the voter list to track down individuals and to monitor how often they vote. The list could also be misused by government agencies such as the Tax Commission to target citizens based on their party affiliation.
Mayne’s bill allows the Democrat and Republican parties to, as a Democrat party official wrote, “match consumer data that allows targeted communication to affected communities on issues to those who actually care about a particular issue.” This is data mining and voter targeting.
No Privacy Safeguards to Protect Personal Information Once Sold by the State
Mayne’s bill does not require political parties, scholars, journalists and other government entities who receive the personal identifying information of 1.5 million Utah voters to follow the safeguards that apply to similar information maintained by private businesses, the driver’s license division, and peace officers
And the bill does not impose the same penalties that apply to businesses, the driver’s license division and peace offices to political parties, scholars, journalists or other government agencies that fail to safeguard the personal information of Utah voters once they obtain it.
In fact, the bill appears to allow political parties and others to make unlimited copies of voters’ personal information and to spread it wide and far without any restrictions whatsoever.
Under this bill, the personal information of more than a million Utahns can be left totally unprotected on desks, in cars or at candidates’, scholars’ or journalists’ homes. Thumb drives and computers with the list do not have to be protected and there is no requirement to report lost or stolen copies of either printed or electronic lists.
The bill does not require those obtaining the voter list to properly dispose of it by shredding; erasing; or otherwise modifying the personal information to make the information indecipherable as required of other entities by Utah Code 13-44-201. Thus, millions of Utah voters’ personal information can simply be thrown in the trash can, left on computer drives or on the cloud.
The bill does not require recipients of the list to protect records that constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy as required by Utah Code 63G-2-302(2)(d). In fact, the bill allows political parties, scholars and journalists to invade personal privacy at will.
The bill has no specific requirement for the state to properly classify and protect records which if disclosed would jeopardize the life or safety of individual such as victims of domestic violence as required by Utah Code Utah Code 63G-2-305(11).
Either Make Your Personal Information Public or Don’t Vote
Overall, Mayne’s bill continues the current situation that, in effect, has the state telling votes, “if you want to vote, you will give all of your personal information to the Democrat and Republican parties, to scholars, to journalists or to government agencies to use as they see fit without any limitations otherwise you will not be allowed to vote.”
Could this arrogance and contempt for Utah citizens be a contributing factor to the state’s low voter turnout?