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Birth dates help reporters watch over public money

BY ED KELLEY Modified: October 29, 2010 at 11:41 am •  Published: April 4, 2010
As stated previously, the birth dates of registered voters already are available. As Paul Monies, our database editor, points out, hundreds of companies, political parties, lawmakers, media outlets and state agencies have requested this information in the last decade. The story on Page 1 today reveals how the state is reaping millions of dollars from the sale of this information. Rep. Randy Terrill, who is pushing the Legislature to exempt the birth dates from the law, obtained a list of registered voters himself for his campaign in 2004. And Terrill also finagled a list of home addresses of state employees for the OPEA’s use, even though home addresses are exempted by law.

Obtaining birth dates is identity theft.

Both locally and nationally, we are aware of no case of identity theft or personal harm to an individual that came as a result of that person’s date of birth being available in a public record. Numerous recognized privacy experts agree. Would the Election Board continue to make birth dates available to hundreds of outside groups if there was truly a danger of a voter’s identity being stolen? It seems unlikely.

You want to get all state employees’ birth dates so you can publish them.

There is no witch hunt of state employees. Despite claims by the OPEA, The Oklahoman has never intended to publish lists of dates of birth either in the newspaper or online at our Web site, We’ve never done such a thing in our 116 years of publishing, and we certainly aren’t about to do it now.

Why would any agencies in government cooperate with you?

In fact, they do. For example, Drew Edmondson has made available dates of birth for all of the employees in the attorney general’s office. On a much larger scale, the Oklahoma City public school system, led by Superintendent Karl Springer, has done the same regarding school district employees.

We at The Oklahoman take very seriously the traditional watchdog role of the press in modern American life. At the heart of that role is journalistic oversight of government, particularly at the local and state level. Open records — of which dates of birth are a key component — and open meetings laws allow us to do our job on behalf of our readers and online audiences. We believe you’ve come to expect that from us through the years, and we intend to continue to meet your expectations in the future.


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