A Link With Jury Duty And Voting
Wednesday - October 15, 2008
Is it possible the threat of having your identity stolen by a hacker or scammer is scary enough to keep people from voting? There is a growing concern that if registered to vote, your name and essential information is put on a special list, which is how the judiciary selects jurors to make their wheels of justice work.
These concerns may seem a little far-fetched, but constant news reports of identity theft and scammers are enough to worry to the most trusting citizens.
Just recently a federal grand jury indicted a young Tennessee man for hacking into vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s e-mail account. To make matters worse, the 20-year-old culprit is the son of a Democratic state lawmaker in Tennessee. He could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Hawaiian Electric Company issued a fraud alert last week about certain individuals impersonating HECO and HELCO employees. The scammers were telling customers that their electric bills were overdue and had to be paid or electric service would be disconnected. In an offer to help the customers, all they needed was a host of personal information.
Simply put, having your identity stolen is a real concern and something every individual needs to be wary of. What does this have to do with voting? As I mentioned, the Hawaii State Judiciary obtains names for jury pools from state income tax records, as well as from voter registration and driver’s license lists.
In fact it’s the law. You can check for yourself at Hawaii Revised Statues 612-11, Master List. It says, “(a) Each year the clerk for each circuit shall compile a master list. The master list shall consist of all voter registration lists for the circuit, which shall be supplemented with other lists of persons residing in the circuit, such as list of taxpayers and licensed drivers. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the lists used to compile the master list shall contain available identifying information of the persons on the list, such as last name, first name, middle initial, date of birth, gender, address, and Social Security number. Each person’s name shall appear only once on the master list. (b) Whoever has custody, possession, or control of any of the lists used in compiling the master list shall make the list available to the clerk for inspection, reproduction, and copying at all reasonable times.”
It appears the government, by law, has access to just about everyone’s personal information. So if you think not voting will save you from being called for jury duty, you are wrong. If you payed taxes and have a valid driver’s license, the government still has the information it needs to summon you for jury duty. Of course, if you have a valid reason for not serving, you can be excused.
No matter how trusting you are, the thought of a “Master List” floating around a government agency can be scary. After all, if some 20-year-old kid can hack into the computer file of a candidate for vice president of the United States, how hard would it be for someone to break into the “Master List” at the Judiciary, the Internal Revenue Service or state tax collectors or the Department of Motor Vehicles?
I’m not suggesting the “Master List” is not protected from hackers. But I am suggesting that using the fear of getting asked to serve on a jury as justification for not exercising your constitutional privilege to vote is shameful, especially when you consider how many people have given their lives so you could have the right to vote.
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