"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?" Thomas Jefferson
First, the good news. In stark contrast with former Lieutenant Governor Bell who demanded he be allowed to sell Utah voters’ information, Lt. Governor Cox has teamed with Utah’s County Clerks and penned letters to both the State House and Senate pleading to protect the information. The letters are available here (PDF): Letter to the Senate and Letter to the House.
This would come as welcome news to those who’ve fought to stop the practice as well as voters concerned with privacy and security. This includes domestic and child abuse victims, families hosting foster children, police officers, judges, LDS Church leadership, and the elderly (the list is easily sorted by age, providing an easy means for scammers to target granny and gramps).
Now the bad news. This year two bills have received good support (particularly, HB302 which passed with overwhelming support in the House). This year it appeared that voters’ sensitive information would finally get some protection. In past years similar bills have been opposed by both big political parties, the politcally-favored, and media. As such, Republican Party Chairman, James Evans, hit the panic button. I understand that during a closed lunch, he badgered State Senators into agreeing to take no action on either HB302 (Voting Records Amendments) nor the toothless/faux protection SB36. The bills are dead and the list will continue to be sold to whomever wants it.
Ironically, the online voter information makes it simple (combined with caucus attendance rule changes) to stuff the ballot box at either GOP or Dem. caucus meetings.
To sum, it appears that James Evans and the Utah Senate have decided that your right to vote may only be exercised if you divulge your personal information and voting history to their political machines, political consultants (like those who send you lame attack ads), and any individual/business or whatever that wants the voter list for whatever reason. They can ignore the potential for caucus voter fraud and are fine if you have to terminate your voter registration in order to protect your or your families security and/or privacy. But, hey, why should they worry – disenfranchised voters don’t vote, right?
HB302 was designed to allow you to control if your information from being released. Currently, the State (thanks to the Lieutenant Governor’s office and Herbert Administration) sells all voters’ information without informing you or giving you any choice in the matter. Despite years of warnings and citizens’ (and a few legislators) unsuccessful attempts to protect the information, the entire list was posted to the internet raising concerns of identity theft and raising awareness of sale.
The awareness sent alarm bells ringing for those concerned with their personal security such as LDS leadership, judges, police officers, victims of domestic abuse, county attorneys, and now custodial parents of foster children (transcribed from March 5, 2014 KSL Radio News):
[Reporter: Mary Richards]Families that adopt from foster care are very careful to protect their information, like their home address. This Utah father adopted some children from abusive situations, those families know his name and he knows the voter information is out there already.
[Father]The problem is being created as a result of the attention this whole situation has been given.
[Reporter] He says he would like to see the bills passed that would restrict access to the voter registration records or, at least, define more a penalty. He said victims of domestic violence or other crime would have the same concerns.
I stated “HB302 was designed to allow you to control…”. The bill was watered down and now is limited to those who designate a security concern to protect their information but also carries fines and penalties if the list is released (ie buyers have to treat your information with care, unlike the current standard of absolutely zero control/accountability*).
The bill now has carve-outs for some political cronies and lobbyists (campaign consultants, political parties, the media among others). However they would have to protect the information and be accountable for disclosure.
That has disappointed me as I don’t believe anyone (except for election fraud oversight) has any entitlement to my personal and voting information. A Constitutional right shouldn’t be contingent on some favored group’s desires. However, it is a (small) step forward and still better than the pointless SB36. Please contact your Representative and Senator and ask them to only support HB302 and not water it down at all nor make it a SB36 clone. It is imperative that they hear from you as powerful lobbyists and party insiders (see below) are out to kill the bill which has a Senate sponsor in need of a commitment intervention.
Most telling in this is the media lobbyist (Pignanelli) is still fighting the bill – they don’t seem to want any accountability with the peoples’ personal information but would crucify you in their publications for data breaches…go figure. The political parties (GOP and Dem) and lobbyists/consultants may also not be too happy with actually having to care for the information as both parties have fought tooth-and-nail to stop voter protection bill.
*Favored political groups (ie those with lobbyists and donations) can do whatever with the information, but similar personal information held by regular business must be cared for and is subject to fines. It’s cronyism pure and simple.
UPDATE: I am now aware that another serious issue has arisen regarding the voter list going online. I will not go into detail (for obvious reasons) but with everyone’s information online, it is now extremely easy for anyone to stuff the ballot box at GOP caucus meetings.
Utah Voter Personal Privacy And Security Begone, Courtesy Of The Herbert Administration And The Legislature
When the personal information of every registered voter in Utah was posted to the internet at utvoters.com, it caused a stir. Now the list, which is sold (for $1050) by the Herbert Administration, is also available at a new site. Better yet, unlike utvoters.com, the new site does not have a mechanism to remove your personal voting information (including date of birth). The site is also easier to search for individuals or other defining characteristics.
Want to know and LDS leader’s political affiliation and home address? Go for it. Want to get a police officer’s address or a judge’s address and personal information? Too easy. Hey, want to get their voting family’s information? No worries. How about, the new address of that domestic abuse victim with a restraining order…or the adoptive parents of the child you gave up…or a child abuse victim…etc, etc, etc.
The fact of the matter is, the website is not to blame. They posted information that the Herbert (and Huntsman) administration sells. They’ve been warned about this for years and erstwhile Lt. Governor Bell fought hard to keep the cash a-comin’ (while removing his and Herbert’s information). Political parties (GOP and Democrat) along with political campaign consultants and media allies have also fought to ensure your right to vote is subordinate to their activities. In Utah, your choice is to relinquish your right to vote or give these cronies all your information. Now, pols like Senator Karen Mayne are “shocked…shocked!” that the information is online.
Mayne’s kabuki response was to draft a bill that has contains juicy exceptions for the aforementioned cronies that ultimately would virtually ensure your information would still end up online. Fortunately, Representatives Edwards and Perry take this seriously and have a bill (HB302) that allows you to opt out of having your personal and voting information spread around. You’ll never guess which bill the political insiders are trying to kill (and Senators are poised to accommodate). You need to put pressure on legislators to protect your right to vote. Please contact your Senator and Representative. Ask them to support HB302 (Voting Records Amendments) and allow you to opt out of the information peddling.
Last week, I gave the ‘hokey pokey award’ to Senator Bramble on HB116. Senator Valentine earns the Hot ‘N Cold Award this week.
On Friday, Valentine dropped his sponsorship of HB302 which would allow you to keep you personal information and voting history private and off the internet for all to see. This divulged information includes that of domestic violence victims who have security concerns as well as LDS Church officials, police officers, judges, and their families.
The bill sounds like a no-brainer, right? It should be but political parties (Republican and Democrat), political consultants, Lexis-Nexis, and the media decided they’re entitled to your personal information and that entitlement trumps your right to vote. The forced disclosure has also been facilitated by past and current Lieutenant Governors (and the Herbert/Huntsman administrations). They’ve fought tooth-and-nail to make your right to vote contingent on their “entitlement”.
Valentine got a case of cold feet and caved into political party pressure on Friday. Later that day, he hokey-pokeyed and decided to sponsor it again. The question is why?
My guess is the parties panicked when they realized someone else would sponsor the bill and told Valentine to control and change the bill to be like SB36 which does absolutely nothing and virtually guarantees the voter list will be posted to the internet again (ie tries to pull the wool over voters’ eyes). Don’t fall for the shtick. Contact Senator Valentine and politely, but firmly, ask him to sponsor the bill with no changes and contact your Senator asking them to support the HB302 as it stands (let them know you’re not fooled by SB36).
Update (3/10): Valentine was a no-show for the Senate hearing on HB302 leaving the battle to Rep. Edwards, Sen. Weiler, and citizens that managed to counter elite lobbyists’ arguments and getting the watered-down bill out of committee. I have heard Valentine was in an important budget meeting but he also seemed not to have informed the bill’s sponsor (Edwards) that he wouldn’t show, leaving her on her own to present the bill.
Mr. Alciere, on utvoters.com, has posted a set of statements that are worth reading. It is worth noting that Mr. Alciere can also see SB36′s gaping loopholes versus the actual protection/control afforded by HB302 (especially for those with security concerns, such as certain crime victims):
Special Message to the People of Utah:
The real problem with HB 302 as substituted is, the uncertainty whether lawmakers are trying to prohibit the communication of true facts already lawfully obtained from a public record, one which they insisted remain public. That needs to be fixed. While I disagree with the use of birth dates as security passwords (because you cannot be expected to keep it a secret and you cannot be given a duty to do so, unlike banking PINs and passwords or credit card numbers, which can also be changed,) my home state of New Hampshire does not include even the year of birth on the voter list. Before investing in the Utah list for what was a genealogy website, I checked that it included the full date of birth.
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. If there are two Nicoles born the same day and living in Utah he can compare the voting histories to Nicole’s voting history on a legacy voter list and determine which Nicole is O.J.’s ex.
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. I might get more web traffic with more data, but I have the intellectual honesty to concede that the telephone company does not get to pick and choose who has a good reason to need an unlisted number. (They also don’t try to force people to stop consulting last year’s directory.)
As has been noted on this blog, SB36 effectively does nothing at all for voters’ personal information other than providing an utterly false sense of security…while keeping the politically-connected happy.
On another part of his site, Mr. Alciere is also spot on when it comes to who should be on the receiving end of blame for the release:
•Stop trying to blame a Utah political mess on a man in New Hampshire.
•They [Utah State Legislature] insisted on requiring by law that the Utah voter list be supplied to anybody who wants it. Now they see political consequences. They could have listened to Dr. Mortensen, but they made a different chess move, which they are trying to take back through censorship. They want voters to think lawmakers have stopped the spread of the information which has already been publicly released, and downloaded thousands of times…
Alciere was well within his rights to publish the list. For years, the legislature along with Huntsman and Herbert Administrations, Lieutenant Governors, political parties, political consultants, Lexis-Nexis, Utah’s Media, and other politically-connected groups have insisted your voting information be sold to whoever wanted it.
The above groups are now aligned behind SB36 to ensure their ‘entitled’ gravy train to your information keeps flowing. It’s time to ignore the ‘New Hampshire straw man’ politicians want to distract you with and let the legislature know your right to vote is not a servant for the political-connected elites’ entitlement mentality. Please contact your legislators and ask them to reject SB36 and support HB302. Also, consider ‘liking’ the “Protecting Utah Voters” Facebook page.
This came out on Friday, when many start tuning out of the news in anticipation of the weekend. The Count My Vote group that wants to take away neighborhood elections and place political power squarely in the hands of political elites and big donors (see here and here too) may have an legal ‘oopsie’ on its hands. As Channel 2 reports (‘Illegal’ Actions Alleged Against Count My Vote – video at link):
Specifically, the complaint alleged corporate CMV donors have not filed necessary disclosures, that out of state residents have collected signatures, and that some of the petitions were left unattended—so no one actually witnessed petitions being inked.
Protect Our Neighborhood Elections also said a Washington School District Foundation director used a school “email system” to send out a notice about the initiative during school hours. The email was allegedly addressed to “all WCSD Employees,” and was said to include the words, “Information about the Count My Vote Initiative is available at your school office to include signature booklets. The petition deadline for signatures is January 31, 2013.”
More dramatic was an audio recording purported to be of a Count My Vote signature taker, who seemed to link the petition effort to kids’ lunches that were tossed at a local elementary school several weeks ago.
Here’s the full audio of the non-resident, “signature taker”:
Just a quick update on SB36 and HB302.
SB36 is out of the Senate they passed it knowing that the bill is pure sophistry designed to make voters think their information is safe when it is nothing of the sort. Better yet, the bill was amended to force even more personal information disclosure – this time to the health care industry (who knows what for).
As an added bonus, SB36 will also continue to endanger registered voters (such as domestic violence victims) as they have no means to remove their names from the list or block it’s online publication. All this so they can maintain goodies for their favored special-interest groups.
Meanwhile, HB302 actually would allow you to designate your personal voting information as private and prevent disclosure. Guess which one the special interest groups have historically opposed and currently oppose… They think your right to vote and safety is subservient to their enterprises.
Please contact both your State Senator and Representative and ask them to place your voting rights, privacy, and security over that of the politically-connected. Also, consider ‘liking’ the “Protecting Utah Voters” Facebook page.
For those interested here are the testimonies presented on HB302:
Domestic abuse victim
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings
Utah Media Coalition Lobbyist (Utah voters personal information must be available regardless of personal circumstances and calls HB302 an overreaction)