How do I prevent my voter registration info from being published online?
September 19, 2020 4:39 PM   Subscribe

At the expense of doing my civic duty, I am considering not registering to vote this fall after a recent move. My voter record information keeps being published online, and I don’t feel safe having my name and full address available on the internet. Do I have any options here?

I work in an industry where colleagues have been doxxed and harassed. And while not very likely, I have had a level of exposure where it could happen to me too. Doing a google search a few times a year to find these sites and doing the opt out process to remove my information works but new sites continue to pop up.

Is there a simple solution for this? I can’t use a PO box or my work address, can I? Or to think about this another way, is having my name and full address online an inevitability that I should get used to?
posted by sunrise kingdom to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
A quick Google suggests that there is no general recourse to keep your information private, unless you live in these states and certain reasons apply.

Your industry association, online forums, and colleagues may know more about your particular situation and options open to you.
posted by alittleknowledge at 4:51 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


To clarify, have you isolated the source of your address information to your voting record? I know I have, at times, turned up on Spokeo or whatever as living at my dad's address, where I have never lived. (I want to say I used it as a mailing address one summer in college when my mom (whose home was my permanent address until I finished college) was moving. And by "used as a mailing address" I mean "gave it to the university--I don't even know that I received any mail.)
posted by hoyland at 5:01 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


I'm a poll worker and work election in my state. As the folks above said, this is a state by state thing. Also depending on how far you moved, you could possibly vote at the place you were last registered if it's a place that does absentee balloting. I believe PO Boxes aren't allowed but I don't know specifics outside of my state but you can check at Vote.gov to see what's needed where you live. And just a small point if it's helpful, I found that filling out a change of address form with the post office was actually responsible for a lot of my junk mail at first. Having a PO Box didn't slow down the junk mail but it did keep it out of my house and cut down on my residential address showing up everywhere.
posted by jessamyn at 5:48 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Anecdotal, but I have a relentless stalker so need to be extra private online, and after using "DeleteMe" (it's like $100 a year) all of my personal info (including address) was pretty well scrubbed. I think it takes a good 1-2 months to get everything taken down. I plan to continue using it.
posted by CancerSucks at 6:12 PM on September 19 [8 favorites]


This is actually a pretty good time to reach out to your municipal clerk and explain your concerns to see if they have any advice. You definitely can't* use a PO Box or your work as your residential address, for example, but maybe what goes into those published lists are mailing addresses, which can be basically anything. I don't think you need to get into the details, or give your name, because lots of people have privacy concerns, not just those who (unfortunately) qualify as "confidential electors." One specific thing you might ask about/look into is whether your new state will "deactivate" voter records upon request and, if so, whether that would remove them from any lists that get distributed. You'd still appear in "people who voted in November 2020," which will of course be of non-zero interest, but at least the damage would be limited.

(If you do end up deciding not to vote over this, could you please help someone lower-profile publicity-wise who otherwise wouldn't vote to replace you?)

* Okay technically I can only speak for Wisconsin, and am assuming you're talking about the US, but if you are, the whole point of our system is that people vote from where they live, so it stands to reason that in any state that can't be a little metal lock-box and, unless you're legitimately homeless, it shouldn't be an office building.
posted by teremala at 7:03 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Which state are you in? In Ohio, certain people can apply as a confidential voter, where your information isn't even available to poll workers. It is usually for cops or certain public figures, but I've been told groups such as violence victims can also apply.
posted by greatalleycat at 8:25 PM on September 19


Most states have an address confidentiality program that's usually accessible if you feel or are threatened. It's possible to join with the help of an advocate or attorney.
posted by Wichienmaat at 12:31 PM on September 20


When this happened to me I sent a boilerplate email threatening legal action to every single place that listed my name and address and they all removed the info. A lot of these lists are maintained by one idiot somewhere.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 4:48 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


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