Feb 192011
 February 19, 2011  Posted by  Court

Bill Sizemore reports:

A Richmond judge has ruled that a state law restricting the release of information about Virginians’ personal voting histories is unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Melvin Hughes’ decision last week is a victory for the Know Campaign, a nonprofit organization that sued the State Board of Elections over its refusal to give the group access to voter history lists. Those lists include voters’ names, addresses and records of participation in elections over the past four years.

They don’t disclose how people voted. But because they reveal voters’ records of participation in elections – including party primaries – they are valuable to candidates and party organizations, which use them for targeted campaign mailings and phone calls.

Read more in the Virginian-Pilot. See what you think about how the Know Campaign intended to use the information and how they might use it going forward. Of note:

Hughes’ decision leaves one issue murky: whether the group is free to divulge to voters the voting histories of their neighbors as well as their own.

That was part of the group’s strategy in 2009. The rationale was that people would be even less likely to stay home from the polls if they thought their neighbors would find out.

How would you feel if a mass mailing went out to your neighborhood that listed every registered voter with their address and whether they voted or not in each election? I suspect some readers would not be concerned at all while others might be left with a bit of the “yuck factor” experience.

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