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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 25, 2006

City clerk explains voter card

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Columnist

Q. With all the stress on identity theft these days, why would the City Clerk's Office send to all registered voters a yellow post card to be returned through the mail with Social Security number and date of birth filled out without an envelope and open to all eyes en route? Isn't this an irresponsible practice?

A. City Clerk Denise DeCosta said the post card is designed to enable the voter to fold it over and tape the edges so the personal information on the inside would not be readable through the folded card. DeCosta said her office recommends that voters either tape all three sides of the post card before sending it or insert the card into an envelope to mail back.

But it's not fully clear that the card it is designed as a foldover and if you rip it in the wrong place, you would have to tape it back together to send back to that office.

Why is the clerk's office still asking for some sensitive information as a Social Security number and date of birth on this card in the first place? DeCosta said the Social Security number is still required "to safeguard the integrity of elections and our voting eligibility system." Without it, she said, there would be no way to verify who's eligible to vote.

DeCosta said requiring Social Security numbers for voting is one of the few exceptions allowed under federal law because the Privacy Act severely restricts most other uses. "We've received only one phone call that you could consider a complaint about security concerns," DeCosta said, but added that they have received a few questions.

She also said the majority of voters just keep the card without sending it anywhere. Out of about 220,000 yellow cards mailed out on O'ahu this year and the Neighbor Islands use the same card "we expect less than 10,000 voters will be responding with changes to their voting address or other information."

DeCosta said the information is needed to properly assign polling places based on current addresses.

Q. Who owns Lemon Road in Waikiki? It's a disgusting mess of potholes and illegal parking.

A. Lemon Road is privately owned, according to city Facilities Maintenance Director Laverne Higa. But she said it qualifies for pothole repairs from the city and the potholes there were patched on May 5.

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Honolulu, HI 96813

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