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Catawba voter info online

October 21, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered if your boss or buddy swings to the political right or left, just look online.

Personal information for all 99,847 registered voters in Catawba County is on the Internet.

The information spreads much further than political party and precinct, too. Voters’ home addresses, ages and even home telephone numbers can be found on a Catawba County datasheet.

Catawba County Board of Elections officials say the information is public and is simply an online version of a list residents have always been able to request.

Board of Elections Director Larry Brewer said this is the first year the information has been posted online.

“In the past, all these people were coming to the office for the list,” Brewer said. “We had to give it to them and charge them for it.”

Brewer said the board of elections charged residents $25 in the past for the list of nearly 100,000 registered voters. The CD included all registered voters and voter history.

Candidates most commonly requested the list, but the board also sold the list to insurance companies in the past, Brewer said.

“It’s all public information,” Brewer said.

That public information consists of first, middle and last names, full home addresses, ages, party affiliations, genders, races, ethnicities, municipalities, precincts, wards, school districts, fire districts, mail addresses and telephone numbers.

On Friday, several area mayors declined to say if they had used the lists during previous campaigns. Other elected officials did not return phone calls as of press time.

Area insurance companies also did not return phone calls about use of the voting list.

Three voters leaving early voting at the Newton Main Library on Friday said they were not concerned about their public information being shared online. The voters, who wished to remain anonymous, compared the information to what can be found in an area phonebook.

“Nowadays, it seems like everything is public anyways,” one male voter said.

Area phonebooks do contain personal information like addresses and phone numbers, but residents have a choice whether to be included in the book or not. Registered voters, however, do not have a choice about being included in the online voters list, Brewer said.

Readability of an online datasheet may be simpler than flipping through pages of a phonebook. Using a simple “finder” on Microsoft Excel, for example, searchers can find prominent Catawba County figures like Dale Jarrett and Austin Allran — along with their political affiliation, address and age.

Other lists

The registered-voters list is not the only datasheet that can be accessed online.

By visiting catawbacountync.gov/datasets, residents call also see lists of issued building permits, building permit contractor information, county day cares, food and lodging inspection scores, and more.

The public list of registered voters includes the following names of note:
ESPN NASCAR announcer Dale Jarrett (Republican)
NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett (Republican)
NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield (Republican)
The Gourd Lady Margaret Sparkman (Republican)
District 25 Attorney James C. Gaither (Republican)
Austin Allran (Republican)
Mark Hilton (Republican)
O-N-E Publisher Michael Willard (Unaffiliated)
Conover Mayor Lee Moritz (Republican)
Maiden Mayor Robert (Bob) Smyre (Democrat)
Claremont Mayor David Morrow (Republican)

Comments

Thanks Catawba County...

October 24, 2011 by Backbone (not verified), 2 years 37 weeks ago
Comment: 779

...for promulgating all my personal identifying information. Gee, do you want my SSN and Date of Birth as well!

What was wrong with holding this at the Board of Elections office and then someone had to physically come to get the information? What purpose does this serve by being put on the internet?

Gee whizz, we have lost ALL OF OUR PRIVACY?

I keep waiting for the Newton KGB goon squad to come knocking on my door led by the "big WE"(AKA the "Planning Director) and haul me off for some nefarious violation like too tall an outbuilding or too big a political sign in my yard...or God forbid, I may touch the sidewalk while selling a Cheeseburger downtown!

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