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Pennsylvania law blocks public from seeing who is buying their voter registration information

Brian Bowling
| Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, 11:03 a.m.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.

State law allows anyone with valid ID to obtain your voter registration information but blocks you from finding out who's looking.

That's the upshot of an Office of Open Records decision involving a Quincy Township supervisor and Franklin County.

“I think you should be allowed to find out who's looking at it,” said Kerry Bumbaugh. “It's a stupid law.”

He filed a right-to-know request to find out who had received copies of the county's registered voter list during the 2017 calendar year. The county denied the request citing a state law that, in fact, blocks it from providing that information.

The law governing voter registration lists requires counties and the Department of State to verify the identity and keep a record of who looks or copies the lists and enter their information into a form.

“This form will not be available for public inspection or copying,” the law says.

Bumbaugh found a way around this by asking for the receipts the county gave people and entities who bought the voter list. As a political candidate, he knew that he had to report any spending including the purchase of a voter list, and that his campaign finance records are public.

The Office of Open Records agreed that the receipts are financial records and aren't covered by the law blocking public access to the form.

The law allowing people to buy copies of the list prohibits the release of some of the information including the voter's signature, driver's license number and the last four digits of the voter's Social Security number.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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