SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) -- A new law prevents the state from selling your voter registration information.
Ronald Mortensen, a citizen lobbyist, worked toward passing the law for five years. He says most Utah voters don't know that the state of Utah and county clerks are required by law to sell voters' personal information.
In fact, anyone can buy that information for $1,050.00, accessing data of up to 1.8 million Utahns.
"If they change their driver's license address, it automatically updates their voter registration, and unless they make that private, anyone can find out who they are," said Mortensen.
Mortensen worked with Representative Becky Edwards (R) for five years. Edwards unsuccessfully ran bill after bill, designed to protect voters' personal information.
Mortensen says his 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.
However, such public information can be dangerous for many Americans -- especially victims of domestic violence and other violent situations.
Mortensen says survivors of domestic abuse have come forward to explain how this information can put them in harm's way, citing the story of a woman who had to move several times to escape a man who knew her address because of this public information.
He says he also saw such public information threaten American soldiers who served overseas.
"We started out as a privacy issue then we realized that there were really people in danger," said Mortensen. "When I first ran into it, when they were selling the birth date, you could buy that list and make a senior scam list."
Mortensen does not want Americans to have to choose between privacy and voting. That is why he is thrilled to see that House Bill 218 and Senate Bill 74 passed unanimously.
"The role of the state is to protect our information - not to sell it," said Mortensen.
However, the state will continue to sell it, unless voters take action.
To protect your information, click here. There, you can opt to make your information private before or after you register to vote.
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