A Perverse Incentive to Not Vote?

From a reader named Kyle Gregory:

I decided about a year ago that I am not going to vote and happened to find a neat little trick for those of us who take this stance.
I’m not sure about other states, but in Virginia, jury duty is determined by voter registration. I moved a couple of years ago, but never changed my voter registration since I didn’t plan on voting. I recently received notification of jury duty at my parents’ address where I am still registered to vote. The notification form has a section to fill out stating that you have not lived in that county in the past 6 months, which automatically disqualifies you from jury duty! So, as long as I do not want to vote, I am also exempt from having to do jury duty!


This is true in Ohio as well, but not every state works that way. New York, for instance, I am told uses drivers licensees. Regardless, I hope this "secret" doesn't get out and cause states to change the law because I enjoy taking advantage of this as well.


The sky is still blue.


In some states registering to vote also registers you with the Selective Service for military drafts


Around here (Alameda County in California), voter reg is one source of jurors, as is possession of drivers license or DMV-issued ID. So don't register to vote and use only your passport for ID and you're off the hook.

Mike B

The ability to be a more extreme civil leech should not been seen as an ADVANTAGE to not voting. The only way our government functions properly is if citizens participate in it.


Well stated. This is only an incentive for nincompoops who would eventually find other ways to avoid jury duty... Or are just looking for justification for their decision to let other voters decide our fate.


The state of Illinois -- or at least Cook County -- dealt with this issue a while ago. They use all sorts of public records, not just voter registration rolls, to construct their jury duty lists.

Noah Stevens

I've done the same thing and that strategy also works in Washington state.


Isn't it like this everywhere? (Registering to vote is what signs you up for Jury Duty?)


Oh, I see above that it's not everywhere :) Never mind :)


In Virginia, it depends on the locality.

Virginia Code section 8.01-345 allows localities to take jury lists from "a voter registration list and, where feasible a list of persons issued a drivers license [], city or county directories, telephone books, personal property tax rolls, and other such lists as may be designated..."

So what works in one county may not work in the other--unless you find a way to stay completely off the grid.


I'm not sure about this. I'm a resident of VA, but I'm not a citizen and therefore not registered to vote. Despite this fact, I received a notice for jury duty a few months ago. Of course, as a non-citizen, I was disqualified from jury duty. I was under the impression that jury selection (at least in VA) was based on DMV-related info.


People regularly get roundly (and wrongly) criticized for not voting. Part of their argument is that this is your civic duty. It, of course, is not. It's a privilege, which you can choose to exercise if you wish.

However, jury duty really is a civic duty. To shirk that is not something to brag about.

Let's just say it doesn't surprise me that this person is so recently removed from his parents house. I expect his tune to change as he becomes a conscientious member of society.

Alan T.

Did you see the recent Yahoo article about a new incentive to vote? "Pregnant Arizona wife runs over husband for failing to vote." http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57548845-504083/holly-solomon-pregnant-arizona-wife-runs-over-husband-for-not-voting-in-presidential-election-police-say/


When I registered to vote in DC, I was automatically called for jury duty and ended up serving on a trial that lasted nine months (!). I am sure that was the trigger for my summons, because it took me a few more years to get a DC driver's license (I don't have a car).

This experience actually gives me more of an incentive to vote and I have voted in every single election since then. I feel in some ways like I earned this right, so I don't take it for granted. I had to be inconvenienced for nine months of a trial just for wanting to vote--I shouldn't throw away that opportunity.
And that is saying a lot in DC, where I don't even get to vote for federal representation!

Some Guy

I don't believe your reader is correct. Jury Duty lists are culled from a variety of sources, voter records, dmv records, home owner information, etc.

Joel Upchurch

In Florida, we used to go by voter registration, but we switched to DMV records many years ago. The question comes to mind why people should vote if they aren't willing to serve on a jury. We have free wi-fi in the jury room in Orange county.


This is also true in Alabama. Of course, my vote would have no effect even if I were to vote in this state, but yes, the jury duty is extra incentive to remain unregistered.


Every election I think of that guy armed with a shopping bag facing off with a column of tanks at Tiananmen Square . He was willing to be ground into cat food fighting for the right to do something far too many Americans are unwilling to walk across the street to do.