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House, Senate agree on bill safeguarding voter registration records

SALT LAKE CITY — The House and Senate reached agreement on a contentious bill late Thursday to safeguard Utahns' voter registration records.

The House unanimously passed SB36, which is a compromise with HB302, sponsored by Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake.

"We're here to protect your information now in a way it was not happening before," Edwards said in a House minority caucus meeting earlier Thursday.

"Qualified" individuals would have access to protected information, including birthdays. These would include government officials, hospitals, financial institutions and members of the media.

For everyone else who purchases access to voter registration lists, birthdays would be protected. Misuse of information would be a class B misdemeanor, with penalties significant enough to make someone think twice, Edwards said.

Under current law, anyone can buy the records for $1,050 — including addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and number of times voted — on Utah's 1.5 million registered voters.

At least two people bought the information last year and posted it online, causing an uproar among Utahns who say the access violates their privacy.

Residents may apply in person to the lieutenant governor's office or county clerk's office to keep their entire voter registration record private, said Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, who helped broker the deal.

— Madeleine Brown and Dennis Romboy