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Voter protection bill vote pending in House—Rawlings sets out fundamental issues

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HB302S01, which makes voter’s birth dates protected records that cannot be sold by the government and allows individual voters to prevent their voter records from being sold is working its way up the calendar in the Utah House of Representatives.

The bill will likely be voted on either Monday, February 24 or Tuesday February 25.

During a committee hearing on the bill, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings set out the issues and explained why HB302S01 is necessary.

He began by posing two fundamental questions to committee members::

(1) “Is it the proper role of government to protect the private information of its citizens or to sell it?”

(2) “Should the price of pursuing your constitution right to vote be that the government can sell your personal information for public dissemination?”

Rawlings then said that HB302S01 “strikes the right balance—that government’s proper role is protecting the people and giving them the opportunity to opt out of having that information sold in return for their right to vote”

He then addressed an issue that is often raised by those who defend the sale of voters’ personal identifying information.

“Somebody asked me this question: Can you show us anybody who has been compromised by this information being out there publicly now? My thought to that was that’s the wrong question, it reverses the presumption. The presumption shouldn’t be, “Can we show anybody that’s been compromised by the status quo,” the question should be “Can we promise our constituents that they won’t be compromised by the current status quo and the answer to that is we cannot. We need HB302 as substituted to help make that guarantee and that promise to our constituents.”

Rawlings concluded by stating that “My concern as a prosecutor is that the current status quo of the law compromises our citizens in the state of Utah and makes them more vulnerable. And I believe that the proper role of government should be that we make them less vulnerable and that we enact policies that protect them from being victimized by those who would do harm to them.”

Utah’s Democrat and Republican parties don’t agree with Rawlings. They do not want the voter protection bill to pass because they will no longer be able to force voters to give them their personal identifying information in return for allowing them to exercise the right to vote.

The Media and the League of Women Voters oppose the bill because they believe that government transparency requires all voters to make their full name, address, month day and year of birth, party affiliation, voting record and a wide range of other information available to the everyone, everywhere in the world. Like the parties, they would require voters to make their personal identifying information public and deny citizens who refuse to comply with their demands their constitutional right to vote.

Will members of the House choose to protect their constituents’ private information or will they vote to sell it?

Should the price of pursuing your constitution right to vote be that the government can sell your personal information for public dissemination?

The vote will show how Utah House members answer these questions.

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