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Voter Lists, SB 81 and HB 304

March 13, 2012

I met with Ron Mortensen and his son, Greg, before the session and talked about issues related to identity theft. During the first week of the session, they asked me to amend SB 81 to try to establish both birth dates and email addresses as protected, private information on the voting records. I immediately spoke to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Margaret Dayton, and she indicated that she was opposed to the amendment. She said that Rep. Becky Edwards was already running a bill that would protect the birth dates and she had no interest in combining the two. Since Senator Dayton is in leadership (rules chair), I figured she could easily defeat any attempt I could have made in my very first week to amend het own bill against her will.

SB 81 passed both votes in the Senate unanimously. It also passed the House unanimously (although it did face some opposition in committee).

Rep. Edwards’ bill was HB 304. It passed out of the committee mid-session but then stalled. In fact, it never came to the Senate for a vote. I made a special effort to try to ressurect it at the end of the session, but to no avail. I suspect that had something to do with the fact that both the state Republican and Democratic party leaders sent a letter to legislators asking them to oppose the bill. Their argument is that the birth date is the only unique qualifying information that can be used to prevent voter fraud.

After studying this issue, I sided with the Mortensens over the party. Since our state sells the voter lists, I am concerned that con men and scammers can use them to target the elderly. I will continue to monitor this issue and press toward protecting our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

As I prepare to run for reelection, I have been criticized for voting for SB 81 without the amendment — which just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished. From my vantage point, I was the only Senator who pushed this issue.

One Comment
  1. Sen. Weiler was supportive of bringing HB 304 to the Senate floor for a vote and made an effort to do so, even on the last day of the session. I appreciate his support on the issue and siding with the public’s right to choose to keep their private information…..well, private. When the Senate voted on SB 81, prior to it’s being amended in the House committee to include birthdate, HB 304 hadn’t even received a committee hearing yet. There was no reason to vote against SB 81 at that point, as the assumption was that HB 304 would eventually be heard on it’s own merits in the Senate. Sen. Weiler has worked as hard on this issue in the Senate as anyone there.
    Rep. Becky Edwards

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