If there’s one topic polite company tries to avoid around the holiday table, it’s politics.
Those who prefer to keep their voting record to themselves can relax. In the United States, we vote by secret ballot.
That means no one can look up a record of how you voted in any local, state, or federal election. There are, however, records of whether or not you submitted a ballot at all and the personal details you gave when registering.
Depending on where you live, some information about your voting history may be available.
Who Can See My Voting History?
Remember, “voter history” refers to whether or not someone voted, not how they voted, while voter registration refers to details about the voter, such as name, address, party affiliation, and may include voting history.
How much (if any) of your voter history and registration information is publicly available depends on where you live. Laws and policies differ greatly in each state.
California, for example, does not release voter registration rolls to the public. California law does, however, allow some voter information to be released to members of the CA legislature or the U.S. Congress or to candidates, ballot-measure committees, and people who want it for election, scholarly, journalistic, political, or governmental purposes. A few details are never provided to anyone: Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, and signatures.
In Florida, on the other hand, nearly all information about voters – including phone numbers, birthdate, party affiliation and email addresses – becomes public record. Social Security and driver’s license numbers are among the few protected details. Voters can request that their information is excluded.
Texas allows the public access to voting records (including those of public officials). However, driver’s license and SSNs, birth dates, and phone numbers are not released as part of the voter record.
Michigan makes voter records available but protects SSNs, driver’s license numbers, birthdate, phone, and email.
In Washington State, voters’ names, address, political jurisdiction, gender, date of birth, voting record, date of registration, and registration number are all publicly available.
You can find more information about how each state treats voter history and registration information here or on your state’s Secretary of State website.
What About Privacy?
Some states, like Florida, let voters request that their voter registration details remain private. Many don’t. And that means it’s available not just to political campaigns and researchers, but also to commercial databases.
At PeopleSmart, we never share political party affiliation or other details related to voting history, and we make it easy to opt out of any of our services. It’s all part of our commitment to privacy.
And to happy holiday dinners. :o)