Voter registration laws typically require voters to hand over a great deal of personal
information, including full name, street address, home telephone and date of birth.
Some states have laws mandating that the personal information of registered voters
be disclosed to anyone that wants it at any time. Some county Boards of Elections are providing
that access from their Web sites.
Obviously, having this much voter information available threatens privacy, increases the
risk of identity fraud, and so on.
It is deeply ironic that people doing their civic duty should be exposed to these
Problems like this will continue to grow with the demise of
practical obscurity. But open government values counsel against sealing public
records. A variety of more subtle responses are in order.
First, voter registration authorities should collect the least possible information that
is needed to confirm the identities of voters and assure the fairness of elections. Information
from voter rolls should be destroyed once it is no longer needed. As a security measure, people
getting access to voter information should be required to identify themselves
adequately and have information about their access placed in a separate public record. This combination of
responses would reduce the risks to voters, while preserving open government and assuring
Wake County (NC) Board of Elections Voter Data Web site