FAF Letter to Rep. Stevenson Re: HB 761 Exemption/Voters and Voter Registration

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4 January 2018
The Honorable Cyndi Stevenson
Florida House of Representatives
402 South Monroe Street, Room 1101, The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

Re: HB 761 Exemption/Voters and Voter Registration

Dear Representative Stevenson:

We have carefully reviewed HB 761, which creates a public record exemption for certain information contained in voter registration and voter application records. We believe this exemption is unwarranted and respectfully suggest that it be withdrawn from further consideration.

The bill is simply unnecessary given that much, if not all, of the information the bill purports to protect is currently available from a variety of publicly accessible sources. Consequently, there is insufficient justification for providing a statutory exemption for information easily obtained from other publicly available sources. Moreover, researchers and statisticians commonly use this information in compiling information about voters and specific elections; to close access to important historical information would be contrary to the public interest.

Additionally, the statement of public necessity merely asserts that access to this information might result in its misuse by dishonest persons in order to harm voters or interfere with the voting process. We have seen no evidence that a threat of harm exists to these individuals or that such harm, as a result of access to information contained in voter records has in fact occurred. As currently drafted, the statement of public necessity is speculative at best and fails to justify the exemption. As a result, we believe that the proposed exemption fails to meet the constitutional standard for public record exemptions under Article I, s. 24 of the State Constitution.

Thank you for your attention to our concerns, Representative Stevenson. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,
Barbara A. Petersen, President

Cc: The Honorable Richard Corcoran, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives
Jon Kaney, General Counsel, First Amendment Foundation
Sam Morley, General Counsel, Florida Press Association

[VIEW THE PDF VERSION]

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