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This site was created by Nicholl McGuire, Inspirational Speaker and Author. Feel free to comment, share links and subscribe. If you have a business or would like to guest post feel free to contact. Check out topics on this blog and select what interests you. They are found at the bottom of this page. Peace and Love.

Friday

African Americans Everywhere Get Ready to Pay: What You Forgot About When You Registered to Vote

"Tell Peaches, Lukesha, JJ, and Rod that the government thanks you for registering to vote and making history, but you need to pay up!" That's right, if you have been hiding from those bill collectors, running from the law, or doing something else to try to keep some cash in your pocket like some of your family and friends, then you may have forgotten that when you registered to vote, your business went out in the street!

According to the California Voter Foundation (CVF), “voter data is widely disseminated to secondary users, including commercial interests in 22 states, typically without any notice to voters that their information will be shared.” This isn’t any breaking news for some readers, because they already knew it. The CVF study was conducted back in 2002, and in that study they report who can obtain your information. Although their findings don’t name specific entities, it does give you general information on who has access to your private information. It also lists the kind of changes they suggest state governments should make to protect our privacy. The study reports, candidates and political parties have access to voter lists, 43 states use the same list as a juror source list, and 22 states allow unrestricted access to the list and permit the list to be used for commercial purposes. There are four states who grant scholars and academics access to voter lists under state statutes and four states grant journalists access to voter lists under state statutes at the time of this writing. The site also reports that some states may distribute phone numbers while others won’t, birthdates, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers.

The study suggested what changes needed to be made in states to protect voter information, I guess many states either overlooked the report, didn’t know it existed, or felt it not profitable to protect voter contact information. Some of the Foundation’s recommendations included: “limit collection of data on registration forms, protect sensitive voter data, prohibit commercial use of voter lists and voter registration data, and strengthen enforcement of laws that protect voter data from abuses by secondary users.”

For some registered voters, you will know exactly where a collector obtained your information by the way they address you. If you typically don’t use your middle name, but used it when you registered to vote, well they just may have obtained it from the voter list. There was only one way I filled out my recent voter registration form and I knew immediately where the organization got my information from – you guessed it the voter list! What makes me angry is that this is a collector that I have already been making payments to, but still calls me anyway looking for more money!

It’s only a matter of time that collectors will be contacting you about past due bills, maybe child support you owe, or companies looking to sell you something. I recently heard a radio commercial stating that the IRS has hired thousands more collectors. Mind you this was before Barack Obama had been elected, they already knew there would be a record number turnout; therefore, that meant more people would have updated contact information and they would be able to track them down for money owed. So while we were sending emails, reminding family and friends to register, what we didn’t know is that we were helping the IRS and other organizations, update their databases.

When I conducted more research on this issue of voter privacy, I noticed that websites such as Smart Voter (allows users to find their custom ballot and polling place by entering their street address and zip code) will not reveal your street address to anyone; however that has nothing to do with the registration form you filled out and sent to your local election office. So who gives our information out? I found the answer to that question in an article that was published in VanityFair.com back in December 2007 which reported on a voter registration broker named Aristotle. It turns out that Aristotle provides information about you to political organizations, campaigns, and governmental agencies. They are used to validate your identity. There are other voter registration brokers like Aristotle such as Choicepoint and Axciom who also provide information to the federal, state, and local government about you as well.

When I think of the registration form I filled out, I don’t recall anything in big, black, bold text stating that “…upon completion of this form your information will be shared with federal, state, and local government agencies as well as secondary users.” Now I may still have registered, but then again maybe not. Yes this was an historic election, but I’m sure there were many of us who didn’t know that by registering we would be bothered by companies and organizations from the past and the present wanting our time, money and for some, their freedom.

There was more to electing Barack Obama then meets the eye and the government knew it. Think of all of those people who were wanted by government organizations for one thing or another, so they got caught up in the moment of making history with a single vote, and now their lives will be forever changed in more ways than one. Think of all of the people who will be making payment plans with the IRS, student loan agencies, and other government organizations now that the government has their most recent name, address, and phone number. An economic boost to the economy, you be the judge or maybe jury, because it is only a matter of time you or I will be called.

Obama was going to win whether we voted or not, the government would have seen to it, (if you remember early in Obama’s campaign they caught up with him for some past due bills and he paid them.) Uncle Sam knew what kind of crowds Obama drew and what kind of money he attracted. Both in the states and overseas, Obama is a rockstar, like a name brand product, he brings in cash and a whole lot of it!

Written by Nicholl McGuire, Freelance Writer, Poet & Author

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