As I’ve explained in the past, the state of Utah and Utah’s county clerks are required by law to sell the personal information of more than 1.5 million registered voters for $1,050—voter identification number; first, middle, and last name; voter status (active or inactive); absentee status; original registration date; party affiliation; phone number (if provided by voter); mailing and residence address, voter participation history; and method of participation (absentee, by mail, normal, etc.). Of course, some of the elites, such as the governor have managed to have their personal information protected.
If that weren’t bad enough, certain entities including political parties, or an agent, employee, or independent contractor of a political party, candidates for office, financial institutions, health care providers, researchers and insurance companies are authorized to purchase the month and year of birth of registered voters along with all of their other personal information.
Once purchasers have the voters’ information, they can do whatever they want with it including tracking down the victims of domestic violence who may have changed their addresses, accessing teenagers’ private information or even posting the entire list, less the month and year of birth, to the Internet. In fact, the personal information of roughly 1.8 million Utah registered voters can already be found on voterrecords.com.
2018 legislature finally made it possible for registered voters to protect their personal information.
For over five years, my father worked with Representative Becky Edwards (R), who unsuccessfully ran bill after bill designed to protect voters’ personal information. Their efforts were always stymied by the state’s two major political parties and powerful business interests who insisted that if voters wanted to exercise their right to vote, they had to give them their personal information.
Finally, in 2018, two election related bills, SB74 and HB218 were passed with provisions making it possible for Utah voters to request that their voter registration records be made private. Both bills passed the House and the Senate unanimously and were signed by the governor.
In addition to Representative Edwards, the following legislators played a key role in making it possible for Utah voters to exercise both their right to vote and their right to privacy: Senator Karen Mayne (D), Senator Deidre Henderson (R), Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D), Representative Sue Duckworth (D), Representative Karianne Lisonbee (R), and Representative Norm Thurston (R).
Salt Lake County Clerk, Sherrie Swensen (D) also worked diligently to give voters the right to make their voter registration a private record.
So, how do I make my voter registration record private?
If you are NOT already registered to vote, go to the state website and register to vote. When asked “Would you like to make your record private,” click on “Yes.”
If you are already registered to vote go to the state website, update your voter registration information and make your record private by clicking on “Yes.”
If you are completing a paper form to register to vote, when asked on the form “Would you like to make your record private, check “Yes.”
How do I remove my records that were previously sold by the state from voterrecords.com?
According to voterrecords.com:
We respect your privacy and have a simple way for those wishing to remove some of their public records data from appearing on VoterRecords.com.
Step 1: Search for a person [by clicking here and then entering your info in the Search Filters on the left.]
Step 2: Click on the person’s name in the search results, this will take you to the individual’s detailed record page.
Step 3: Scroll to the very bottom of the page and click the Record Opt-Out link. This will take you to the opt-out form specific to that record.
Step 4: Once the form is submitted we will send you an email with a verification link that you will need to click to verify your opt-out request. (Not everyone will receive the verification email. If you do not receive the email this typically means your record was successfully processed without additional verification being needed.)
Once you have done this, data such as: house number, phone, and email address should no longer appear. Make sure to refresh the page and clear your browser cache if you are still seeing the data after you have completed these steps.
Please remember that all voter records appearing on VoterRecords.com are public record and can be obtained directly from the government by anyone at anytime. Removing information from VoterRecords.com has no effect on the official records the government maintains and releases. [Therefore, unless you make your voter record private, the state will sell it to voterrecords.com and voterrecords.com may add it to their list even if you have previously removed it.]
So, that’s it. Take five minutes now and protect your personal information. And, pass the word on to your family and friends. After all, if the state won’t do its job and protect our information, then we will have to do it ourselves. At least, we can now vote without being forced to let the state sell our personal information to the world, political operatives and a bunch of businesses and health care providers.
Note: This post was co-written with Ron Mortensen (hey, there’s a first time for everything).