Will Obama Reduce the Chance That You Are Called for Jury Duty?

INSERT DESCRIPTIONPhoto: Tom Lemo

One of the changes that the “Yes We Can” movement has already wrought is a substantial increase in voter registration — particularly in swing states. In Virginia, for example, the number of registered voters increased by almost 10 percent.

Since voter-registration lists are also used to construct juror lists, a possible benefit of this registration boost is a reduction in the number of times the rest of Virginians are called for jury duty.

But the Obama bump is likely too muted. The construction of the juror rolls varies by state. States use a variety of databases, including not just voter registration lists, but utility bills, driver’s licenses, property tax rolls, welfare rolls, phone directories, and school lists. New York relies on “registered voters, licensed drivers, and the state’s mailing list of taxpayers.” So registering to vote does not necessarily mean that you are adding your name to your state’s juror rolls. (This is probably a good thing. It would be even harder to get citizens to overcome the voter’s paradox if registration subjected them to being called for jury duty.)

Any bump is also likely to be delayed, as the juror lists in many states are only updated periodically. Virginia tells us that newly registered voters would only hit the jury lists of the Commonwealth in 2010.

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  1. Silas says:

    Kind of a pointless post then?

    The myth that registering to vote qualifies you for jury duty is troublesome. I worked on a major registration project in college, and the number of times that i dispelled that myth was surprising. Then again, I am not sure I want people unwilling to serve on a jury to be voting for my president….

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  2. econobiker says:

    The phrase “jury nullification” is a pretty good to use to get out of jury duty. Research it and you will understand why the courts/judges/lawyers don’t like it…

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  3. NM says:

    What’s surprising to a foreigner about jury duty in the US is how civil suits employ jurors. I find that particularly unjust when, for example, patent trolls start frivolous lawsuits in east Texas, abusing the time of the citizens.

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  4. Dave says:

    In Illinois, any government registration is ripe picking for jury duty lists.

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  5. NYRogue says:

    It doesn’t really matter anyways, due to ACORN and there fake registrations, when they find out that Mickey Mouse is not eligible for Jury Duty, they will just continue down the list, and maybe in fact increase the jury pool.

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  6. Deb says:

    I was thinking about this yesterday in response to an article I saw on the spreading same-day voter registration trend in states. My argument is that if people are waiting until the last minute to register to vote, they may be doing so to avoid being called on for jury duty and therefore should be moved to the top of the list of potential jurors.

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  7. WB says:

    I lived in the same county for 22 years, at the same address, registered voter, vehicle and driver registrations, utility bills. I never once got called to be on a jury until 9 months after I moved to a new state.

    Oddly enough, I also got a letter from the Secretary of State of my former state I had to sign to be dropped from the voter registration rolls. That was 9 months after I got a new drivers license in the new state and had sent in the change of address and residency to the tax department of the old state.

    Just like a bad marriage. They didn’t pay attention to me while I was there. I told them I was leaving and they ignored it. Then nine months later, they miss me and want me back.

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  8. Steve says:

    I don’t get (at some level) the fear of jury duty. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but so is a traffic light or taxes; it’s part of our price for living in our society.

    Besides, should the time ever come when you for some reason need a jury, do you really want it composed solely of people with nothing better to do?

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