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Utah Senate puts parties first; House focus is on citizens' privacy and safety

Key Points:

  • Utah Senators have consistently opposed protecting the personal identifying information of Utah voters and insisted that it be available to everyone. This led to the posting of the entire voter list to the internet.
  • Senator Karen Mayne’s bill sacrifices citizens’ privacy, safety and security for the good of the Democrat and Republican Parties and even allows to continue buying and posting the list to the internet.
  • Representative Rebecca Edwards’ House bill protects the privacy, safety and security of Utah voters. Birth dates will be a private record and citizens will be able to lock up their voter records based on their own personal threat assessment.
  • Under pressure from the Republican Party, Senators are moving to kill or gut the House bill. If they do, the safety and security of Utah’s registered voters will continue to be seriously compromised.

Under the leadership of James M. Evans and James Dabakis, the Utah Republican and Democrat Parties continues to insist that Utahns have to choose between their right to privacy and personal safety and their right to vote. These two major parties also insists that the proper role for government is to sell the personal identifying information of its citizens.

The Constitution Party, on the other hand, comes down on the side of voters. According to Frank Fluckiger, former Chair of the Utah Constitution Party:

It is not appropriate for the Democrat and Republican parties to require citizens to give them their personal identifying information. It’s unconscionable that these two parties refuse the right to vote to independents and to Constitution Party members who wish to protect their privacy, safety and security. The Constitution Party places individual freedom and liberty first and supports HB302S01 since it gives voters the right to control their own personal information.

Senate Supports Major Parties; House Supports Voter Privacy, Safety and Security

Utah State Senators have traditionally done their Parties’ bidding and killed all efforts to protect the personal identifying information of registered voters whereas under the leadership of Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, the House has been a strong defender of the individual right to personal privacy, safety and security as well as to the right to vote.

This year appears to be no different.

Both Democrat and Republican Senators have unanimously put their support behind Senator Karen Mayne’s bill (SB36S03) which forces citizens to choose between their right to privacy and their right to vote while telling them that they can’t have both. And they support the Mayne bill even though, in order to give the major parties what they want, it is necessary to give the right to continue obtaining and posting the personal identifying information of Utah citizens.

The Utah House has placed the privacy, safety and security of citizens ahead of the major parties’ demands by passing HB302S01 (Rebecca Edwards) by a vote of 71-2. The House bill makes citizens’ birth dates a private record that is no longer accessible to anyone but election officials. In addition, it allows citizens to lock up their entire voter record if their own personal risk assessment determines that this is necessary.

Even the individual who legally posted the entire voter list to the internet, as fully authorized by the Utah State Senate, has weighed in on the two bills: He posted a Special Message to the People of Utah:

The House bill is better for your privacy than SB 36 as substituted. If O.J. Simpson is looking for Nicole, he can afford to get the Utah voter list “for research” and find her. The Senate bill does not remove her birth date….

Some people qualify for unlisted registrations already, but some crime victims might not wish to explain everything to a bureaucrat in front of strangers who are waiting in line. The status quo is, the crime victim must beg for mercy. Under the House bill, the crime victim is in control. That will make a big difference in how some crime victims feel.

Senate at a Crossroads: Support the Major Parties or the Citizens Right to Privacy, Safety and Security

So it comes as no surprise that Republican Senators are already showing signs of caving into their party’s demand that they either kill or gut the House bill (HB302S01).

The Senate sponsor of HB302S01, John Valentine, wavered in his support of the bill after he received calls at home from key Republican Party officials.

Then HB302S01 was moved from the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions committee to the Senate Business and Labor committee. Senator Curt Bramble controls that committee and Bramble has reportedly told House members over the years that the Senate will never allow a bill protecting voters’ information to pass that the major parties oppose.

The Utah State Senate is at a crossroads. It can either join with the House in defining the proper role of government as protecting its citizens rather than selling their information and allowing voters to exercise both their right to privacy and their constitutional right to vote or it can stand with the Democrat and Republican Parties.

If past history is any indicator of future performance, Utah Senators will once again abandon the citizens and come down on the side of the major parties.


Impact of the Senate’s Past Actions on Utah Voters

  • 1.5 million Utah voters have had their personal identifying information posted to the internet.
  • Millions of Utahns’ are forced to choose between their right to vote and their privacy, safety and security.
  • Domestic violence victims have had their addresses and phone numbers released to their aggressors.
  • Parents who have adopted children in contentious circumstances are now panic stricken because their home addresses are available to those would harm them and their children.
  • A young woman who was sexually abused as a child now has to either live in fear or move to make it harder for her abuser to find her.
  • Senior citizens are at greater risk of state facilitated scams because the Senate determined that the major parties’ need for their information was more important than the quality of their lives in their waning years. (The voter list can be sorted by age to create senior mail and phone scam lists).
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