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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Public Records > Voter Records


Voter Records

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 threats.

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 fair elections.

Links:

Wake County (NC) Board of Elections Voter Data Web site

Comments? comments@privacilla.org (Subject: Voters)

[updated 05/21/03]



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