Groups sue to block elections officials from giving protected voter information to federal commission

Jul 28, 2017, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Two groups are suing the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s office to prevent elections officials from giving protected voter information to a federal commission.  However, the data in question is something elections officials have stated they wouldn’t hand over.

In June, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox released a statement saying there was no evidence of mass voter fraud in Utah.  His office also stated they would not release sensitive voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  However, League of Women Voters Utah Co-President Catherine Weller says the statement was not clear enough on whether birth dates would be included in the public data the commission can receive.  She says, “The birth date is a protected form of voter data and anybody requesting birth dates must prove that they are qualified to have a release of that data.”

The League, along with the League of United Latin American Citizens of Utah are asking for “positive affirmation” on what will happen with that information.  “He didn’t address any of that at all in his initial statement, which said he would be required to release the data, if it were requested,” she says.  They also want to know if the federal government will have to pay to get the voter information that is available to the public.

On Capitol Hill, elections officials are scratching their heads as to why this lawsuit is necessary.  Elections Director Mark Thomas says the Trump administration only asked for voter addresses, voting histories and party affiliation if that information was already public.  As for birth dates, Thomas says, “Under the statute, there are some exceptions in order to get birth dates.  [The commission] didn’t ask for it.  We’re not going to give them that.”

Thomas says any organization who wants public voting records would have to make a formal request, and they’d have to pay, $1,050 to get it.  He believes the only way his office could give out sensitive data would be to break state law, which he says they have no intention of doing.  “I think the League of Women Voters are going to be very satisfied with how we move forward,” Thomas says.

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Groups sue to block elections officials from giving protected voter information to federal commission