A bipartisan bill before the state legislature aims to protect personal information by restricting the disclosure of voter registration data. The bill, somewhat similar to one proposed by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, can be seen as well-meaning but more likely could do more harm than good.
House bill 5507, now before the Joint Committee on Government Administration and Elections, would protect what’s considered sensitive voter information from hackers and commercial users in the interest of keeping it from those who would sell the data.
“One of the main ideas is to protect people’s birthday,” said Josh Elliott, a Hamden Democrat who co-sponsored the bill with Darien Republican Terrie Woode.
”Political parties can have access,” he said. “We don’t want various commercial entities having that information. We want to find that balance to protect voters.”
What protects voters, however, is not limiting information, but transparency.
Consider the situation that led to an elections enforcement investigation involving state Rep. Christana Ayala, a Bridgeport Democrat. Coverage by the Connecticut Post into election law violations depended on the use of public records.
As Mike Savino, a Record-Journal editor who is president of the Connecticut Council for Freedom of Information, has pointed out, transparency is essential to defending election results against those who would question the integrity of the election system.
“In reality,” said Savino, “this bill will do little to protect personal data but will hamper the public’s ability to monitor elections.”
Limiting information does not protect individuals and instead feeds criticisms of the election process.
Transparency is what protects, and it is in the interests of transparency that this bill should go no further.
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