Friday, May 21, 2010

“Happy Birthday!” That’s none of your business...

I have officially lost count of the number of people who have asked me how my opponent in the state rep race knew that it was their birthday.

It’s an interesting idea, calling registered voters on their birthdays, but in this time where the issue of privacy is in the forefront, people are rightfully concerned about where their personal information is stored and how it’s being used.

This is a typical conversation:

“You’ll never believe what your opponent did today.”

“Happy birthday _____,” I’ll respond.

“So you know about this guy calling everyone on their birthdays. Where did he get my birthdate?”

“Everyone’s birthdate is listed in the voter roll. It’s public information.”

“Well I think it’s kinda creepy.”

The pattern I see is that people over 50 are the most resentful that someone has access to this personal information, particularly women. My mom, for example, would never divulge her age. Until she turned 70, that is. Then she didn’t much care anymore, thankful that she was still able to celebrate her birthdays (given the alternative).

To be clear, there is nothing private about your date of birth. There are many websites where you can look up this information (and more) for free. I’ve even used these sites on occasion to prepare a new client’s tax return for whom I forgot to get a birthdate. Even that’s not necessary anymore because your proof of insurance form that I need when preparing your Massachusetts income tax return lists it (and your spouse’s and each of your kid’s).

So, as I make calls to voters over the next several months to talk about the issues, you can be sure of this: I won’t be calling you on your birthday—unless it’s a coincidence. In that case, “Happy Birthday!”


  1. It is in town reports also

  2. Yep, he called me on my birthday. Left a message with Mr. Sandyshoes, who got a chuckle out of it. I'd forgotten about it until right this minute.

    I don't think it's creepy that my birthday is a matter of public record. I think it's creepy that a total stranger who wants something from me would call on the thin pretense of offering me birthday greetings. It's presumptuous and rude.

  3. My spouse got one, laughed, and asked me if they guy was a democrat or Republican; if the former, she wouldn't vote, if the latter, he would get her vote. Randy, please don't change your mind or you may lose a vote.

  4. I received the same call. The "age" issue doesn't bother me -- it is what it is. It did bother me that a perfect stranger called my home under the false pretense of offering birthday well-wishes. Silly political ploy. Ridiculous little man!

  5. Let me say from the beginning, Randy Hunt is my man for the house seat in Boston. That being said, Jeff Perry has sent plenty of people he did not know material and congrats. I kind of thought it was a great idea. I wish someone would call me and wish me a happy birthday.

    At the end of the day, Randy has my vote and that of the household, another five.

    Georgia George

  6. Georgia George, sending a constituent a laminated copy of a newspaper article about them or recognition of an accomplishment is a good idea and I will continue that practice as state rep. It's part of Jeff Perry's excellent constituent services. No one does it better.

    I send all of my clients a birthday wish as part of my CPA practice, which includes a coupon for a free scone and tea at Beth's Special Teas. But I have a need to know their birthdates in order to prepare a tax return, so it's no surprise to my clients how I am acquiring this information.

    I thank you for your support in my state rep race.


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