What Information Is Public From Your Voting Record?
Because our voting ballots are secret, many voters believe that information about their voting record is too. That is far from the truth. At least some voter registration information is public unless the voter is in a class of people whose information is protected (explained below).
Political campaigns typically purchase voting records. Law enforcement may access voting records. And now two phone apps make some voting record information available to the general public – OutVote and VoteWithMe.
What information is contained in state voting records?
The public information in state voting records includes, at minimum, your name, address, and party affiliation.
States are free to gather additional information and some of that information may also be made public. Your voting record may include:
- Identifying information:
- Date and place of birth, gender, father's name or mother's maiden name, Social Security number, military ID, passport number, drivers' license, signature
- Address information:
- Current and past addresses, voting district
- Contact information:
- Email address, phone number
- Voting information:
- Party affiliation, when you voted previously, absentee ballot, precincts, registering agency, required assistance
- Miscellaneous information:
- Prior felony conviction, last date of jury duty, active or inactive status, date when information was last updated
Who can request voting record information?
State statutes define who can request a voter list, what information can be publicly shared and with whom, and how that information can be used.
Depending upon your state (and sometimes your county), your voting record may be requested by and shared with political parties and candidates, law enforcement, government officials, businesses, scholars, journalists, and even members of the general public. See the National Conference of State Legislatures for more information.
Can my voting record be kept private?
Your state may have programs that allow you to keep confidential at least some part of your voter record. People who qualify for protection include:
- Victims of domestic violence – every state EXCEPT GA, IL, MI, SC, SD, TN, WY
- Crime victims, people with protective orders, and family members – TX, OK, NY, MD, KS, HI, VA, DE, CA
- Law enforcement officers – VA, OK, MT, MO, MD, LA, HI, CA, AZ
- Spouses of law enforcement – TX, OK, HI
- Reproductive healthcare medical providers, employees, volunteers, or patients – CA
- Retired state and federal judges and attorneys – VA, TX, OK
- Foster parents – VA
- Uniformed service members – OK
- Pre-registered voters under the age of 18 - CO
- Victims and witnesses under protection – MO, MD
- Any voter who requests that their record be classified as private – UT, NV, DC, AK, AZ
This article has discussed lawful access to voting records. There have been problems with unlawful access to voting records. In 2018, millions of voter records from 19 states were illegally offered for sale in an online forum. The source of those records was unknown.
If you have a concern about the privacy of your voting record, about potential voting record violations, or other voting law issues, talk to an election law attorney in your community who can explain your rights.