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 Bill would limit availability of voter registration data

HARTFORD – A new bill would limit the disclosure of voter registration data in Connecticut, which currently allows the sale of this information for commercial use.

Under Freedom of Information laws, Connecticut is required to make all voter registration data public, available for sale for just $300. This has been the case in the state since the beginning, but now as all eyes are on big companies like Google for collecting and selling users’ personal information, Connecticut is too. A new bill, introduced by state representatives Fred Camillo (R) of Greenwich and Brenda Kupchick (R) of Fairfield, would protect this sensitive information from commercial users.

Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, introduced similar legislation last year and is working on a new bill, but also supports this one.

“Right now, you can still get someone’s name, address, and birth date, and with those three pieces of information, you can steal their data,” said Merrill. “Anybody can purchase the list so that means it’s being used for all kinds of data mining reasons.”

Right now, the only way to remove voter data from these public records is to un-register to vote. Other than that, there is not much choice for privacy; however, through the program ‘Safe at Home,’ victims of domestic violence can use the state office as their mailing address for voter registration.

“Their address is really information that should be kept private because if an abuser is able to find that, they can stalk, they can harass,” said Karen Jarmoc, the Chief Executive Officer of Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Jarmoc said nearly 40,000 people come through the doors of domestic violence organizations every year but only a couple hundred are registered with ‘Safe at Home.’

“This is a really critical program around people’s safety plan,” said Jarmoc.

A public hearing on the bill has not yet been scheduled.

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