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States Where Voter Data Is Most and Least Vulnerable

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Vote of Confidence

Every state keeps detailed records about its registered voters, generally with name, address, email address, phone number, race, gender, and party affiliation, but in some states adding such critical information as Social Security, driver's license numbers, and birthdates — and it all may be available to the public or political parties. It's not even about fear of hackers; some states just publish entire voter lists online. Want to know which states do the best job protecting voter data? Here's a 50-state scorecard by the web security firm Comparitech on factors such as access to voter lists and voter cyber security standards, scored from 1 to 47. (The lower the score, the weaker the privacy protections.) 


Related: Don't Miss These Voting Deadlines in Your State

Richmond, VA
Xavier_Ascanio/istockphoto

Best: Virginia

Overall score: 37.5
Access to Virginia's voter lists is limited to political parties, committees, candidates, and researchers — you can see voter rolls only by proving it's to promote voter registration and participation. What's more, you must pay about $5,500 for a list and provide details about what the data will be used for. Those found using the information unlawfully face prison or fines of up to $2,500.

Santa Monica Pier, California
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California

Overall score: 34.5
Access to voter rolls is restricted to political parties, researchers, and journalists and use is limited to noncommercial or political purposes. Those requesting voter lists in California must specify why, provide identification, and pay in excess of $10,000 for the information. There's a fine of 50 cents for each name used unlawfully.

Indianapolis
Davel5957/istockphoto

Indiana

Overall score: 34.5
Access is restricted to a small, approved group of professionals — political parties, researchers, and journalists  and for noncommercial or political purposes. The cost to access voter data is a steep $5,000, and those using the information unlawfully face fines of as much as $1,000.

Zion National Park, Utah
Asif Islam/shutterstock

Utah

Overall score: 34.5
While the public has access to voter databases, there are severe sanctions for using lists unlawfully. This includes criminal fines of up to $2,500 and civil fines that can exceed $48,000. Those requesting access must provide their own information and declare that they understand what the file can (and cannot) be used for.

Minnesota
JoeChristensen/istockphoto

Minnesota

Overall score: 33.5
Only registered voters can access state voter files, and only under inspection in local election offices. In addition, the list may be used only for political and election purposes. Violators face felony charges bringing more than a year in prison and fines that can be well over $10,000. Unlike in other states ranked highly, the cost of voter lists in Minnesota is a bargain — a mere $46. Still, requests must be detailed and a declaration on legal use has to be signed.

Mount Rushmore
Sharon Day/shutterstock

South Dakota

Overall score: 32
Only political entities and candidates can access voter lists, and only for political purposes; the public is allowed to inspect the lists at local election offices. Those who want to buy a list have to pay $2,500, and use for unlawful purposes can bring fines of up to $2,000 or a year's imprisonment. Civil penalties of up to $2,000 may be tacked on.

New Orleans
ParkerDeen/istockphoto

Louisiana

Overall score: 31
Voter lists may be viewed only under supervision at local election offices, and there are fines for improper use. Those who breach this provision can be fined more than $1,000 and face imprisonment of up to one year.

South Dakota Sunset
South Dakota Sunset by Thomas (CC BY-SA)

North Dakota

Overall score: 31
North Dakota limits access to its voter list to just political groups and candidates, charges for access, and imposes fines for improper use.

New Hampshire
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

New Hampshire

Overall score: 31
New Hampshire limits sales of lists to political groups and candidates, though the public can view voter lists at local election offices. There are fines for improper use that include up to a year in jail and penalties up to $2,000. There's a fee to access a list.

Baltimore Row Houses
peeterv/istockphoto

Maryland

Overall score: 30.5
Only registered voters can access the state's voting lists, and use is limited to noncommercial purposes. Those who misuse the data are subject to a fine of anywhere from $10 to $250 and imprisonment of 30 days to six months. The state also scored well for its cybersecurity data protection efforts.

Cheyenne, Wyoming
Davel5957/istockphoto

Wyoming

Overall score: 30
Wyoming earned a perfect score for cybersecurity, and access to lists is limited to political committees, parties, and individual candidates — though this includes individuals and organizations "who promote voter participation" within the state. Commercial use is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail or a fine of as much as $1,000.

Omaha, Nebraska
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Nebraska

Overall score: 29.5 
Nebraska earns solid marks for its penalties for unlawful use of voter data and on its cybersecurity. But a lot of people have access to voter lists: the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers, political committees, parties, and individual candidates. The information may be used only for political and election activities, though, and misuse is a felony punishable with up to two years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000.

Memphis, Tennessee
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Tennessee

Overall score: 29.5
Tennessee scored high for enforcing use of its voter data for only political and election activities; improper use is a misdemeanor punishable with fines of up to $500. On the downside, voter lists can be accessed by the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers and political committees, and parties and individual candidates paying about $2,500. Those seeking access must complete a formal public records request form and sign a document saying the information will be used only for political purposes.

Houston
Art Wager/istockphoto

Texas

Overall score: 29.5
Texas scored the most possible points for its cybersecurity standards and did well in penalties for unlawful use of data. But voters may be concerned that nearly anyone can access the lists, although use is limited to non-commercial purposes. Using the lists for advertising or promoting commercial products and services is a misdemeanor with fines of up to $4,000 or a year in jail.

Phoenix
dszc/istockphoto

Arizona

Overall score: 29
Cybersecurity standards and penalties for unlawful use are high in Arizona. Voter lists are available to political committees, parties, and individual candidates but may be accessed by the public only at local election offices. Misuse of data is a felony drawing as much as a year in prison. The charges could be reduced to a misdemeanor in some cases, for up to six months of imprisonment and a fine of as much as $2,500.

Delaware
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Delaware

Overall score: 29
Voter information may be used only for political or election activities, and Delaware earned a perfect score for penalties for unlawful use. Be found guilty of perjury in the second degree and it's punishable by as much as three years in prison. There is no maximum fine spelled out. The public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers and political committees, parties, and candidates are all allowed to view lists for a $25 fee, but most do so in local election offices.

Chicago
JaySi/istockphoto

Illinois

Overall score: 29
Penalties for nonpolitical use of voter data and cybersecurity rank high, and only political committees, parties, and individual candidates can take lists out of State Board of Elections offices; others may view data on board computers. Misuse of data is a felony drawing one to three years in prison and fines of as much as $25,000.

Reno Nevada
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Nevada

Overall score: 29
Boosting this state's rankings are cybersecurity and steep fees for the full statewide voter list: a whopping $18,273 for all but political parties, who do not pay. The lists are also available to the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers, and political committees and individual candidates.

Hawaii
okimo/istockphoto

Hawaii

Overall score: 28
Voter lists are available on the county level to the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, and researchers. Political committees, parties, and individual candidates have access beyond the county level. Voter information may be used only for political or election-related activities, and those using it for other purposes face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of as much as $2,000. Fees for accessing county lists range from as little as $50 to as much as $750.

Louisville, Kentucky
traveler1116/istockphoto

Kentucky

Overall score: 28
Kentucky scores fairly respectably in several categories, including for cybersecurity and for the fees of about $2,000 it imposes to access voter lists. Only political committees, parties, and individual candidates may take voter data outside election offices; all others must view the information under supervision. There is no penalty in place for misuse of lists.

Santa Fe, NM
ablokhin/istockphoto

New Mexico

Overall score: 28
New Mexico earns points for notifying voters when their data is being made public, and for its cybersecurity. Misuse of voter data is a fourth-degree felony that comes with a fine of $100 for each line of voter data used unlawfully. Voter lists are available to the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers, political committees, parties, and individual candidates.

South Carolina
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South Carolina

Overall score: 28
South Carolina gets a perfect score for cybersecurity and ranks high for charging $2,500 for access to registered voters and political committees, parties, and individual candidates. The general public is allowed to inspect voter lists too. Unlawful use is a misdemeanor drawing fines up to $500 or imprisonment for more than one year.

Seattle
aiisha5/istockphoto

Washington

Overall score: 28
The state ranks high for its penalties for those caught using voter data for commercial purposes — a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of as much as $10,000. There is no cost to access voter lists, but those seeking the information must complete an online form that includes name, address, email, and a telephone number. Registering voters are given notice about what information becomes public.

Whitefish, Montana
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Montana

Overall score: 27.5
Montana did respectably on penalties for unlawful use of voter data and cybersecurity, and got points for not publishing lists online. But the information's available to pretty much anyone. It may be used only for non-commercial purposes, though, and violators may face up to a year in jail and fines of as much as $3,000.

Philadelphia
Pgiam/istockphoto

Pennsylvania

Overall score: 27.5
Registered voters and political committees, parties and individual candidates are able to access voter lists, while the public may inspect lists in an election office. Misuse of information is a first-degree misdemeanor drawing a fine of up to $6,000 and up to three years in jail.

Iowa
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Iowa

Overall score: 27
Using voter data unlawfully is a "serious misdemeanor" and carries fines of $315 to $1,875 and up to a year in prison. The state also ranks high for cybersecurity, although voter lists are available to pretty much anyone with around $1,096.

Maine
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

Maine

Overall score: 27
The state charges about $2,200 for access, and those seeking it — political committees, parties or individual candidates — must give their identity, state their purpose, and sign a document acknowledging the information can only be used only for political or election activities. There are no penalties specified for using voter data other ways, though.

Montpelier, Vermont
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Vermont

Overall score: 25
In Vermont, those who use voter data unlawfully (such as for commercial purposes or by disclosing the data to foreign governments) face perjury charges punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a fine of as much as $10,000. The voter lists are available free to the public; state residents; registered voters; nonprofits; researchers; and political committees, parties, and candidates.

Spruce Knob Trail, West Virginia
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West Virginia

Overall score: 25
West Virginia earned its best scores for cybersecurity and demanding information to access voter data — name, address, phone number, and email — and for requiring a signed agreement that the list will not be reproduced, sold, or used for commercial purposes. Voter lists are available to state residents; registered voters; nonprofits; researchers, political committees, parties, and individual candidates. The public may also inspect voter lists in an election office.

Mississippi State Capitol, Jackson, Mississippi
Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

Mississippi

Overall score: 24
Mississippi ranks well on cybersecurity and for charging around $1,100 to access voter lists. They are available to pretty much anyone, but only for non-commercial purposes.

Birmingham, Alabama
RobHainer/istockphoto

Alabama

Overall score: 23.5
While Alabama scores respectably on cybersecurity, it does poorly in other categories, including penalties imposed for unlawful use of voter data — there are none. Little information is asked of those seeking access, although it costs as much as $36,327 for all state records available to political committees, parties, or individual candidates. (Data is available on the county level to the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, and researchers.)

Boise
Charles Knowles/shutterstock

Idaho

Overall score: 23.5
Those seeking voter lists must give information in turn, and Idaho also ranks high for cybersecurity. It falls short in other categories — for instance, lists of those obtaining absentee ballots are published online. Voter lists in Idaho are available to members of the public, state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers, political committees, parties, and individual candidates, for non-commercial purposes only.

Kansas
Mark Alexander/istockphoto

Kansas

Overall score: 23
Kansas earned one of its best rankings for demanding information for access to data but was just average in many other categories. Penalties for unlawful use are less intimidating than in many other states: one month in jail or a fine of up to $500. Voter data is available to pretty much anyone who wants to access it, and people registering to vote are not told their information may be shared with third parties.

Atlanta
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Georgia

Overall score: 22
Voter lists with names, addresses, birth years, races, and genders are widely available, and voters aren't warned. The information may be used only for non-commercial purposes, however; unlawful use is a misdemeanor drawing up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000.

St. Louis
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Missouri

Overall score: 22
Voter lists with names, addresses, and full birth dates are available to all for $35, but the information may be used for non-commercial purposes only. Lawbreakers face misdemeanor charges drawing up to six months in jail and a fine of as much as $1,000.

New York, New York
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New York

Overall score: 22
New York scores perfectly on cybersecurity and nearly as well on requiring information of those seeking access to voter lists. Violators face misdemeanor charges and punishment of up to one year in jail and fines of as much as $1,000, or twice the amount of the gain from the crime. On the other hand, access to lists with information such as name, address, date of birth, and gender is free.

Portland, Oregon
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Oregon

Overall score: 22
Oregon does a pretty good job with cybersecurity and on requirements for those accessing voter lists: Requests must include name, organizational affiliation, email, and phone number. The cost to access voter records revealing voters' name, address, year of birth, and phone number is $500. Users must sign a statement promising not to use the information for commercial purposes, and civil penalties of up to $1,000 may be imposed if that rule is ignored.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Wisconsin

Overall score: 22
Wisconsin works to keep data safe from hackers and earns the top score on fees: a steep $12,500 for the list — which is just voter names and addresses — available to state residents, registered voters, nonprofits, researchers, political committees, parties, and political candidates. The public can also inspect voter lists in an election office.

Denver
RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/istockphoto

Colorado

Overall score: 21.5
Colorado is another state ranking high for cybersecurity, but it's weak in other categories. Virtually anybody can access voter lists that provide name, address, year of birth, and phone number, and there are no limitations specified for how that information can be used. With no restrictions on use, there's no punishment for misuse.

Tampa
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Florida

Overall score: 21.5
There isn't much information about voters that Florida does not make available. Even your signature is visible, although users may not copy it. And voter lists are available to anyone. There are also no limitations on how the information can be used, so no penalty for misuse, and the lists are made available for free.

Providence, RI
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Rhode Island

Overall score: 21
Rhode Island is great on cybersecurity but falls short in most other areas: Voter lists are available to anyone who wants them, and while the information is supposed to be used only for political or election purposes, there's zero penalty for using it other ways. The cost is $25 (or $700 for a printout) for voter names and addresses. There's an option to get voters' phone numbers and email addresses.

Jersey City, New Jersey
Ultima_Gaina/istockphoto

New Jersey

Overall score: 20.5
Cybersecurity draws a solid score, and the state limits access of voter lists to just registered voters and political committees, candidates, and parties. But that's where the protections end, and voters are never told their information may be shared with third parties. Use of the data is limited to non-commercial purposes, and misuse seems to fall (strangely enough) under the state "disorderly person" laws, risking a $500 fine.

Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

District of Columbia

Overall score: 19.5
The nation's capital is an interesting case study of protections in place for voters. As it turns out, there are very few. Voter lists are available to practically anyone, with no limits on use, and voters are never told their details may be shared with third parties. Of course, there are no penalties for misuse, and access is a mere $2. (Why charge anything?)

Fairbanks, Alaska
LaraBelova/istockphoto

Alaska

Overall score: 19
Alaska does great in cybersecurity, but that's basically where protections end. Voter lists are available to all, with no limits on use, and voters are never warned their personal details may be shared with third parties. If there's one silver lining, it is that only names and addresses are on the lists.

Lake Michigan, Michigan
ehrlif/istockphoto

Michigan

Overall score: 18
Anyone can have full access to Michigan's voter database, and there are no limitations on use, so no penalties for misuse. Given that, is a high rank for cybersecurity comforting? How about a charge of $50 to access the list, which gives voters' names, addresses, and birth years?

New Haven Connecticut
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

Connecticut

Overall score: 17.5
Like other states ranking low, Connecticut offers total public access to voter lists (with a written request) and no penalties or restrictions on use. There is, however, a $300 fee and high cybersecurity. Voter information includes name, address, full date of birth, phone number, gender — and driver's license number.

Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Arkansas
csfotoimages/istockphoto

Arkansas

Overall score: 17
There's a $50 fee for public access to an electronic voter list and no legal restrictions or penalty for use. On the bright side, the state scores high for cybersecurity. The personal information made available includes name, address, full date of birth, and phone number.

Boston Common, Boston
Jorge Salcedo/shutterstock

Massachusetts

Overall score: 17
One of the lowest-ranking states in the nation, Massachusetts imposes only one real restriction: Voter lists are available only to political committees, candidates, and parties, but without restrictions or penalties for misuse. The state does not require anything beyond basic details for access to the information, which is limited to names and addresses.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Majestic_Aerials/istockphoto

Oklahoma

Overall score: 17
Oklahoma allows public access to its voter lists without restrictions on use or penalties for misuse. Voters are never warned their details may be shared with third parties, and the lists are free. Name, address, and date of birth are included.

Cleveland
Ron_Thomas/istockphoto

Ohio

Overall score: 15.5
Ohio's voter lists with names, addresses, and dates of birth are available online, to anyone. But the state stipulates that voter records may be used only for non-commercial purposes and imposes sanctions for misuse: up to 180 days' imprisonment and/or a fine of as much $1,000.

Asheville, North Carolina
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Worst: North Carolina

Overall score: 12.5
Where to begin? The state allows literally anyone to access its online voter database of names, addresses, birth years, races, genders, party affiliations, and voter history, without restriction. At least North Carolina keeps certain information confidential: Social Security numbers and email addresses. And it receives respectable scores for cybersecurity.