All About California’s New Voter Data Breach Law

california lawA new California Law requires journalists, researchers, and political campaigns to notify California officials if they receive voter data that may have been stolen. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the law last month.

Organizations that receive voter registration data for California residents must now report security breaches that may impact that information. This data can include important information like names, addresses, birth dates, and more.

Voter files, or digital databases of voter information, are built by using publicly available information about people who are registered to vote. These files can give people and organizations a better idea of things like voter registration or election attendance.

Under current California law, people and organizations who agree to use the data only for journalistic, political, government, or scholarly uses can have access to voter data. But after previous security breaches, the new law is making way for new guidelines for how important information, like voter data, should be stored in a secure manner.

Not only does this new state legislation require reports of data breaches, but the California legislature makes intentionally misinforming a voter about their eligibility or voting locations a misdemeanor.

As one of the new state laws, it was passed by both chambers of the Legislature with only one vote against passing the law. For over one hundred years, state courts have relied on evidence of legislative intent in understanding state law.

Voter files are important for a variety of reasons. Anyone who wants to better understand Americans, their voting patterns, and elections, in general, can gain a lot of useful knowledge from viewing this data. And with a drastic increase in cyber security breaches around the world, new laws like this one are required to protect Americans and their information from those with ill intent.

With today’s technology and tools, pollsters, academics, and others can gain useful information from viewing voter information. But despite the good that can come from this information, it can be detrimental if it’s not stored securely. This new law aims to protect voters, their information, and other important data so the voting system can remain secure. This law aims to serve as a model for other states as well.