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Creator of website revealing Colorado voters' public records has hidden own identity from public

Posted at 11:46 PM, Nov 02, 2016

DENVER -- A website that has compiled public records on Colorado voters is protecting its own identity from the public.

ColoradoResidentdb.com shows the name, address, voter affiliation, age and in some cases phone numbers, for all Colorado voters.

Denver7 took the website to voters in Downtown Denver to find out what they thought of what was accessible.

After Joelle Morrison gave us the spelling of her name, we found her record.

After finding a map, her age and landline phone number, Morrison had enough.

"Should I know this stuff about you?" asked Zelinger.

"No," she said. "Yeah, that's kind of scary. Way too much. Way too much. I have kids. Yeah, it's way too much."

"If I start spouting personal information, is that going to bother you?" Zelinger asked voter Lisa Nguyen.

"No, that's fine. It's like searchable, public record stuff," Nguyen said.

A search of Nguyen's name found 10 records. One of those gave us her Centennial address, age, but no phone number because she didn't include that on her voter registration.

"I work in an industry where I kind of am a data-miner, so I'm personally OK with it," said Nguyen.

While all the information is publicly accessible through the Secretary of State's Office, whoever is behind the website has gone out of their way to block you from knowing them.

"Almost always, there's an 'about us' or a 'contact us' or those sorts of things, but this site is completely devoid of that kind of information," said Metropolitan State University Denver Computer Science Professor Steve Beaty.

He searched the IP address and found that the website is registered in Panama with a phone number that doesn't get us to anyone with an email address that has more random characters than a Disney movie.

"They're not trying to monetize it, as we say. There are no ads on the page, for example. There are no charges to use the page. So it's interesting then, as to why they would choose to do this," said Beaty.

If you were to search the history of www.thedenverchannel.com, you would get contact information.

"It gives us an address in Cincinnati. It also gives us a phone number," said Beaty.

Denver7's corporate office is based in Cincinnati.

If you look at the bottom of the website, you'll find a reference to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, which appears to give the impression that the site is controlled in some sort of way by the Secretary of State.

"I think it's important for folks to know this site is not part of the Secretary of State," said Ben Schler, legal and policy manager for the Secretary of State Elections Office.

The Secretary of State has received email complaints over sites like this.

"You have just compromised my safety," wrote one voter.

"Please remove any information or you'll be hearing from my lawyer," wrote another.

"Do you sell this information to sites like this?" asked Zelinger.

"Well, we charge for it," said Schler.

Anyone can purchase a voter list from the Secretary of State's Office for $50.

"You don't actively sell the information to third parties to then do whatever they want with it?" asked Zelinger.

"That's correct. We don't actively sell it, but we're required under law to make it publicly available," said Schler.

The public record includes a voter's address, age, voter affiliation and phone number.

"A phone number, that's not one of the things that the legislature determined was something that we need to hold back," said Schler. "Your social security number, your driver's license number, your month, day of birth, those things that are considered personally identifiable information, we're required under law to withhold that information."

He said you can actually contact your county elections clerk and request to become a "confidential voter."

You can find information for your county clerk and recorder at this site: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Resources/CountyElectionOffices.html.

Click here for more information about the Colorado Address Confidentiality Program.

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