Unknowingly Register To Vote And Let Utah Sell Your Personal Information

State Representative Handy (also backed by Senator Adams) has a bill (HB159) that will automatically register anyone to vote who gets a driver’s license. The only way to avoid this is to opt-out (that is, the state demands you register or catch the fine print and be inconvenienced to opt-out of such).

To begin with, I think it is everyone’s duty to cast an informed vote. However, voting (and registering thereto) is a deeply personal choice and is something that should not be forced on others nor set up in a manner where you may unknowingly register to vote simply by filling out a mundane form. Right off the bat, the bill fails muster with this alone.

In Utah, however, registering to vote also means that the State will turn your information into a money making scheme by selling it to anyone willing to pay the Lieutenant Governor’s office. I’ve been tracking this for years. The only way to avoid this is to qualify and make your record “private” (contact your County Clerk for details on qualifications). This defacto public release results in a threat for unknowing voters who have security concerns (eg domestic abuse survivors etc) along with scam targets (the elderly via the list containing birth dates).

While some progress has been made to restrict list distribution, it remains up for sale. State Representative Becky Edwards is trying to further restrict information that is released but faces another uphill battle against political crony interests, both major political parties, and lobbyists* who believe they’re entitled to data mine your information, without your consent. All because you wish to fulfill a civic duty.

Certainly, the list should be made available for voter/vote result vetting by the media and concerned groups. However, we’re not even close to that. It’s still effectively available for anyone’s use as they please. It needs to stop.

Please contact your Representative/Senator and ask them to end this practice. Ask them to support HB348.

Addendum: Speaking of security concerns, Republican voters in general may have this. Just think if the black block folks buy or are provided a copy of the list. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such upstanding young people intimidate protest at your front porch…

*Inexplicably, the libertarian-leaning Libertas Institute, whom I often find common ground with, is also opposed to this. They too feel entitled to government forcing you to cough up your personal information for their organization & lobbyists to use as they please. Not sure who that possibly melds with respect of individual rights/freedoms…
UPDATE: See comments section for Libertas statement. Thanks to Mr. Melendez for adding their perspective.

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Data Mining Utah’s Voter Records

This is follow-up to my recent post on this topic. Two news reports were posted related to this:

Utah voter info continues to be sold by the state for $1,050

and

Lawmaker wants to let you decide if Utah sells your voter info. From the second link:

“What I’m hearing from a lot of people is it’s the business of the government to protect the people, not sell your data,” Rep. Edwards said.

The information is a matter of public record. The Lt. Governor’s Office, which oversees elections in Utah, routinely sells it to political parties and campaigns for $1,050. The state elections director told FOX 13 that some of the information has also been sold to data mining groups.

Rep. Edwards, who ran similar legislation in 2014, said it is time the state changed its privacy settings with voters’ info.

“We have put voters in a situation where they are having to choose between registering to vote and protecting their privacy,” she said. “No voter in the United States should have to be put in that situation.”

Must be nice to know that your right to vote is contingent on data mining companies being able to have all the analytical fun they can with your data. People get upset with Google, Yahoo etc with personal information but don’t appear to realize that the State of Utah plays just as loose with information they’ve gathered based on exercising a right. Furthermore, the sale of these lists allows stalkers and abusers to identify unwitting “former” victims who may not realize that their information is up for sale and have not protected it (please go to the bottom of the first linked article for the document to protect your info!).

Here’s hoping Rep. Edwards succeeds but it will be an uphill battle against the Governor’s office and the Republican and Democrat parties.

“Available Jones” Strikes Again: Utah Violating Law To Sell Your Voting Records, Put Seniors, Others At Risk

First, please read the source op-ed, it also includes a link the the voter list website:

Herbert Admin Sells ALL Utah voters’ personal information – Except the Governor’s

Governor Herbert (aka “Available Jones”) continues to prove himself a donor’s best friend. Since 2012, I’ve tracked Utah’s mishandling of voters’ personal information. They simply don’t care at all about your privacy (note: if you have personal security concerns, please see this post to secure your info) – either you cease voting or you comply with political cronies’ data mining demands. This year, we find ourselves with yet another version of release of your voter information on the internet:

In its biggest single, ongoing release of personal information, the Herbert administration sells the full name, home address, phone number, age, year of birth, political party affiliation, etc.of virtually every one of Utah’s roughly 1.5 million registered voters to anyone willing to pay $1,050 for it despite an apparent prohibition in Utah Code—63G-2-302(1)(l).

First, take a look at the linked code citation. It is prefaced with “The following records are private:”

(l)    a record that:
(i)    contains information about an individual;
(ii)    is voluntarily provided by the individual; and
(iii)    goes into an electronic database that:
(A)    is designated by and administered under the authority of the Chief Information Officer; and
(B)    acts as a repository of information about the individual that can be electronically retrieved and used to facilitate the individual’s online interaction with a state agency;

It appears that the voter list would qualify under this section. Evidently, when priority is placed on pleasing the political elite and donor class, laws shall be ignored. Fortunately, they have good cover as the media and both political parties are complicit in this (Herbert may be the head honcho but the political enablers abound).

This release version also indicates that Lt. Governor engaged in kabuki theater when he was ‘asking’ for the voter list to be secured in 2014. As the custodian of the list and in charge of sales thereof, there’s been nary a complaint from him. Cox could also be a total dupe since Gov. Herbert’s information is protected and not on the website but Lt. Gov. Cox’s information (along with his family’s) is on the site.

The implications are obvious, anyone who has a security concern has a gaping personal privacy leak greatly simplifying an attackers’ job of identifying their victim’s (and family’s) location etc. The list also provides a convenient means for scam artists to target the elderly as year of birth, age, and phone number are also on the database. Finally, for a local touch, LDS Church and other local Jewish and Christian church leadership listed on the database may want to up their security given the recent threats from Daesh/ISIS to target them (see this post and scroll down for intel source links).

EDIT: Edited for clarity (see strikeout and underline). The list is still from the 2014 version but was posted in a new, easier to search format.

Utah’s Voter Roll Disclosure Open To James O’Keefe, Project Veritas Operation On Voter Fraud

Based on what I watched and read regarding James O’Keefe’s operation in North Carolina this year, he could use similar methodology to target Utah’s elections (frankly made much easier with our ridiculous vote by mail only program).

Essentially, thanks to Utah’s past and continued distribution of the voter list (albeit now just to politician’s pet groups/projects) via the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, O’Keefe would have what he needs to run a similar sting here: voter name, address, age, phone and vote history.  In North Carolina, he used the voting history to identify inactive voters (I think he looked for those who had not voted in the last three elections).  The only hope would be a poll worker to ask for ID, which I understand is not a strict requirement in Utah (again, even easier with mail-in only voting).

Hopefully, we clean our voter rolls and identify voters who have moved and those attempting to illegally vote (like non-citizens…again in North Carolina).  I would prefer that we just take the simple steps to respect that citizens’ right to vote is not beholden to political favored industries’ desire for marketing or data-mining information and prevent easy methods of voter fraud.  Let’s not be embarrassed like North Carolina, please.

Davis County Veterans, Active Duty, Others: Make Your Voter Records Private

I’ve written about Utah’s roughshod dispensing of the voter list and the security compromise voters are forced to choose in order to simply exercise their right to vote.  Some things improved very slightly but much work remains on the issue.

Fortunately, after contacting the Davis County Clerk’s office to discuss the changes to the law, it appears that they are ready and willing to help those with any reasonable security risk to mark their records private so not everyone an their dog has access to their personal information and voting history.

For the military and those in government, it should be easily to qualify and include their family members as Daesh (the accurate name for ISIS) continues to threaten attacks on US soil specifically targeting the aforementioned groups.  If you live in Davis County, I highly encourage you to contact the clerk’s office and see if you qualify.  They are ready and willing to help (I was impressed by their courtesy, candor, and professionalism when I called to gather information – kudos to the Clerk and his staff!).

If you live in another county, I would still contact your clerk’s office to gather this information.  It serves a twofold pupose – easily protect your identity and you and your family’s safety.

Better Late Than Never: Conclusion On 2014’s Voter List Battle

Life became hectic…well, more hectic than normal…and I failed to find the time to get a final update on this year’s legislative outcome for Utah voters’ personal information protection (click here for background posts).  Truthfully, I still have scant time but have a link article that sums up the political carve outs and slight improvement made when the bill did pass.  It’s a baby step forward and some political cronies are still being rewarded:

Payday lenders get voters’ birth dates; voter safety in Lt. Governor’s hands

The article covers last minute malarkey and partial protection for certain individuals afforded by the passed bill (the majority still must cough up information to the politically anointed to use as they see fit).

Lt. Gov Cox, County Clerks Ask Utah Legislature For Voter Protection, GOP Chair Evans Says Niet!

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?

Update: Please see Payday lenders get voters’ birth dates; voter safety in Lt. Governor’s hands for the conclusion of the 2014 voter protection battle.