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Trump Commission's Voter Request Prompts Some Utahns To Privatize Records

bizoo_n, istock photo

After President Trump’s commission on voter fraud requested data from all 50 states, Utah election officials are fielding more questions from concerned voters. 

Election clerks in four Utah counties say they’ve received a slight uptick in inquiries from voters worried about their information being made public. 

Bryan Thompson is election clerk for Utah County, which has about 300,000 people on its rolls. He says most callers have opted to privatize their data.

“We’ve essentially had about a handful up to a dozen that have inquired through phone call or voicemail, and they’ve just requested that their records be privatized as they are allowed to have happen under state law," he says.

In Salt Lake, Summit and Davis Counties, officials there reported similar stats, either a handful or a dozen or so calls about voter privacy. But few, if any, have asked to be completely taken off the rolls.

Brian McKenzie, chief deputy clerk of Davis County, says he’s explained that the Lieutenant Governor’s office is handling the Trump administration's request and will not be releasing any private information.

“We reassure the individuals that that their social security number, their driver’s license number, their dates of birth are not being provided with that data file, again, if and when that’s released," said McKenzie.

Credit SLCo Clerk
On Utah's voter registration forms, voters are given the option of privatizing their records by contacting their county clerk.

Since 2014, Utah has allowed voters to make their records private if they feel disclosure would put them at risk.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen advocated for the legislation that made that possible and says she’d like to see it strengthened.

“Now, if a list is requested they don’t automatically include the birth date like they used to," she said. "But, nevertheless, I think we need better protections.”

Swensen says she’s spoken to at least one state lawmaker interested in re-introducing legislation to make Utahns’ information even more secure.

Trump’s voter fraud commission is already running into legal obstacles after several states have balked at the request for data. The ACLU also filed a lawsuit on Monday against the commission for alleged violations of open meeting laws. 

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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