A political group is posting Idaho voters’ names, addresses to its website — and it’s legal
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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Want the name and address of every Idaho voter who requested an absentee ballot for the May 19 primary?
Thanks to Idaho Freedom Action, the politicking arm of Idaho Freedom Foundation, you can get that information via its website.
Each weekday, Idaho Freedom Action uploads to its website a spreadsheet it gets from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.
The list includes each voter’s first, middle and last name; street address; mailing address; the date the voter received the ballot; and the date the voter returned the ballot.
Anyone with internet access can view or download the list, which contained 280,214 names on Tuesday.
Is this legal? Yes.
“There isn’t anything illegal that we saw statutorily prohibiting them from putting that list up as long as they are not selling it,” Idaho Secretary of State Chief Deputy Chad Houck told the Statesman.
Idaho’s laws require a complete list of registered voters
Per the law:
“No person to whom a list of statewide electors is furnished and no person who acquires a list of statewide electors prepared from such list shall use any information contained therein for the purpose of mailing or delivering any advertisement or offer for any property, establishment, organization, product, or service or for the purpose of mailing or delivering any solicitation for money, services, or anything of value. Provided, however, that any such list and label may be used for any political purpose.”
Due to coronavirus concerns, Idaho’s May 19 primary will be conducted entirely by mail. Voters must request a ballot to participate in the election. Ballots are not automatically sent to voters. To request a ballot, go to idahovotes.gov or contact your county clerk’s office.
The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office is sending all registered voters a postage-paid absentee ballot application via mail. Voters must request a ballot by May 19. Completed ballots must be returned by June 2.
While Idaho Freedom Action is posting the list as “ballot information,” neither it nor the Secretary of State’s Office has control over who downloads spreadsheets from Idaho Freedom Action’s website or how it is used.
“Not sure if they are breaking any laws, but most likely they are not following the spirit of the law. The law is written to prevent voter information from being used for commercial purposes while still allowing for more widespread use politically,” stated Tucker Anderson, a resident who brought this issue to the attention of the secretary of state and the Statesman.
“The law allows anyone to get copies of this list for a nominal fee, but by posting these lists it allows anyone who would like a copy to download the updated lists. This does not allow the secretary of state to understand who has the information and certainly does not stop someone from utilizing the data for commercial purposes,” Tucker wrote in a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office.
Wayne Hoffman, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, is also president of Idaho Freedom Action, according to IRS and secretary of state records. Both nonprofit organizations share the same downtown Boise address.
Hoffman did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to why the organization is posting the list on its website.
Idaho Freedom Foundation has been active in promoting protests of and encouraging people to violate Gov. Brad Little’s statewide stay-at-home-order issued to curb the coronavirus pandemic. At least one person has filed a complaint with the IRS claiming that IFF’s actions violate nonprofit rules.