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Protecting the public’s information

May 21, 2019

Aside from early voting, the issue that I hear from the public about the most is the ease by which all of their private information can currently be obtained in our voter file. Voters are simply furious with the current law.

Sunday’s column, “Slamming windows on open government,” implies that I have proposed removing the birth date in its entirety from the publicly available voter file. Actually, my proposal would protect the privacy of voters by not giving the day and month of their birth to anyone with $300 to purchase Connecticut’s voter file, but would facilitate democracy and protect the public’s right to know by continuing to disclose the year of birth.

As has been widely noted by both law enforcement and former identity thieves alike, the full birth date, along with the place of birth, is a key building block to fraudulently re-creating a voter’s identity. The voter file is meant to aid election administration, not identity theft.

It is also worth noting, as the column failed to do, that roughly half the states protect some part of voters’ date of birth from public disclosure in their voter files. Connecticut is an outlier in the amount of voters’ personal, private information my office is required by law to include in the publicly available voter file, and in the low price by which that file can be obtained.

Denise Merrill

Connecticut Secretary

of the State

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