Voters' birth month and date may no longer be public record

Feb 23 2011 - 11:47pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Despite opposition from the Democratic and Republican state parties, a committee passed a bill that would make some information about voters private.

Rep. Becky Edwards, R-Bountiful, is the sponsor of House Bill 410, which would make the birth month and birth date of a registered voter private information. Currently, the birth date, birth month and the birth year are public record.

The House Government Operations Committee approved the bill, 6-3, on Wednesday. It now goes before the full House for consideration.

Edwards said there has not been a problem in Utah of anyone using voter information for illegal purposes. Law enforcement would still have access in order to verify information about a person, but political parties and other groups who buy the records from a county clerk's office would not have access to the birth month or birth date.

Christy Achziger, vice chairwoman of the Utah Republican Party, told committee members that, if the bill is passed, it would make elections more difficult for lawmakers because they would not be able to access voter information.

Dan Deuel, with the Weber County 9/12 Project, told committee members he supports the bill because it keeps personal information private.

Utah Democrats oppose the bill, according to an e-mail sent to committee members from Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party.

His stated reasons include providing "data to assist the Secret Service with security for our guests at presidential events." Those events included a recent one when Utah bankers attended a White House briefing on the economy.

Taylor also wrote that it helps with absentee applications.

"We used dates of birth on preprinted forms to get voters to join the counties' vote-by-mail programs," Taylor wrote.

The parties also use the information to target specific age groups concerning certain issues, he wrote.

Ronald Mortensen, of Bountiful, spoke in support of the bill, saying, "A political research group should not trump a person's right to privacy."

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