Voting records provide important identifying information about voters essential to political campaigns and voter tracking. However, the difference between voting ballots and records may confuse some, and you may also wonder if your personal voter records are publicly accessible.
If you’ve been asking yourself, “are voting records public?” our article gives you more information so you can understand what parts of your record are publicly accessible.
The Difference Between Voting Ballots and Records
Though they sound like they might be interchangeable, voting ballots and records refer to different parts of the voting process. Your voting ballot is where you make your selections during an election. This is anonymous, and your identity is not tied to the vote you cast. This ensures voting is done with as much fairness as possible.
Your voter record, on the other hand, contains information about your identity, including name and date of birth, your political affiliation, details on previous vote history like if you voted in-person or cast an absentee ballot, and your current contact information.
Political campaigns will typically access voter records so they know how to tailor their advertisements and which voters to contact when gathering support.
The main difference between voting ballots and records is that ballots are confidential, anonymous, and not accessible by anyone except for those counting the votes. Voter records are the opposite in that they contain identifying information and basics about the voter, such as voting history and political party preference.
Are Voting Records Publicly Accessible?
Most states consider voting records public, meaning they will be accessible to the public in certain situations. However, states have varying laws in which information is allowed to be included on a voter record, so you may find that your record has one or more of the following items:
- Personal identifying information such as your date and place of birth, maiden name, social security number, passport number, military ID or driver’s license information, and your signature.
- Current and previous address information and your voting district.
- Contact information such as your email address or phone number.
- Important voter identifiers, like your political party affiliation, previous voting history, if you’ve requested absentee ballots in the past, and whether or not you require voting assistance.
- Some states’ voter records may include information about criminal convictions, jury duty, and your overall eligibility to vote.
It’s important that you check with your specific state laws and the county that is overseeing voter records for more information about what is included on your personal voter record and additional assistance updating your voting record.
Who Can See Voting Information?
States have differing laws on who can access voter record information and in which circumstances. Most states will allow political campaigns to review voting records, and members of the public, law enforcement, businesses, and journalists may also be able to request this information.
For more details on your state’s laws surrounding voter records and their disclosure or public access rights, you can search through the state voter law database on the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Can You Keep Your Voting Record Private?
In some cases, you may be able to keep your voting record private, especially regarding safety and privacy concerns. But, again, states have varying laws on the circumstances when this is allowed, and which parts of your voter record may be hidden from public access.
Below, we give examples of when you might be able to keep your voter record private.
- Victims of domestic violence are often able to remove their contact information from their voting records, as are victims of crimes, individuals with protective orders, and family members seeking safety.
- Law enforcement officers, uniformed service members, and their spouses may be able to request that parts of their voting records are kept private.
- Retired state and federal judges or attorneys can sometimes keep aspects of their voting records private or inaccessible to the public.
- Both victims and witnesses under protection may be able to keep aspects of their voting record private.
- In some states, residents that are registered voters can simply ask that their records be classified as private.
- Individuals that provide reproductive healthcare services, work in reproductive healthcare facilities, or are volunteers or patients can sometimes make their voting records private.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and many requests for keeping voting records private have to do with highly personal situations. If you have concerns about your voter record information and who might be able to see it, contact your local voter registration organization or your county clerk’s office to learn how to keep parts of your voting record private.
Checking Your Public Records
Your voting records are considered publicly accessible, but states do put certain provisions or circumstances into place before anyone can access your voting record. So it’s important to understand your state’s laws surrounding voter registration records and stay informed of what other information about you may be available to the public.
To keep an eye on your public record information, run a search with an online public record search tool, like on Information.com. You can review the results to see which information about you is viewable by members of the public and ensure that all of your information is correct and up to date.