SALT LAKE CITY -- Loma McKinnon wonders why she can't vote and have her privacy, too.
The senior citizen was among a handful of people who testified Monday in favor of House Bill 304, a measure that would limit the ability of the state to make public some birth date information from voter registration.
The measure, the second this session addressing privacy concerns associated with voter registration information, cleared the House Government Operations Standing Committee on a 9-3 vote and now goes to the full House.
Earlier this session, SB 18, which would limit public access to both email information and birth dates on voter registration records, passed a House committee.
HB 304, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, is a compromise plan that would limit some, but not all, of the birth data on voter information. The bill would allow voter registration information that is sold by the state to include the birth year, but neither the month nor date of birth.
McKinnon said someone hacked into a LexisNexis database in 2005, securing her personal information in the process.
She wonders why state lawmakers haven't closed the loophole on making some personal information public. She doesn't buy the argument that specific birth information is a key tool for law enforcement.
"I honestly don't understand why my voter registration would be such a valuable thing for law enforcement. I'm able to opt out in so many other situations. I'm just wondering why, when I register to vote, I can't opt out," McKinnon asked lawmakers.
Ron Mortensen, of Bountiful, said all birth information should be protected and suggested private companies, like hospitals, would be heavily fined if they made similar information available under existing government guidelines.
He said if the information is such a valuable tool for law enforcement, what happens to law enforcement in tracking 25 percent of the state population who doesn't register to vote?
"Why are we even giving the birth year? Why should we have to compromise with political parties?" Mortensen said.
Todd Taylor, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, suggested access to birth information is one of the few issues both major parties agree on. He said access to specific birth information is a key tool in protecting the integrity of the election process.
Shelly Teuscher, speaking for LexisNexis, said the birth data is a significant tool for many government agencies in tracking potential fraud.
Mark Thomas, director of elections, said his office supports HB 304, but would like the email and birth date information on voter records addressed in separate legislation.
He said the state sells the information because it is forced by law to do so.
In an interview earlier this year with the Standard-Examiner, he said the state sells voter registration lists to approximately 30 parties for $1,050 a list.
Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, said modern technology has made it easier to steal a person's identity and he strongly supports the measure.
"I have a hard time understanding why government aids in releasing personal information, such as the date of birth, whether it's legal or illegal. This information should be held private."