jury duty

I was in the pool for jury duty today, although I was not selected for a panel. (This happens like clockwork every two years.) I used to want to be selected, because I study deliberation, and a jury is the paradigm of a deliberative body. Now I quietly hope that my number won’t come up; I feel I have too much to do at work–perhaps an indication that I’m putting too low a priority on civic duty. Anyway, they never seem to want me.

Waiting in the pool is, however, a nice chance to observe a random selection of my fellow Washingtonians. I have noticed, for example, that African Americans are much more likely than Whites to see someone else in the jury pool whom they already know. (The Black community is more stable, and residents are more likely to have gone to local schools.) Also, a striking percentage of jurors name someone in their family who serves in law enforcement. This is probably a DC phenomenon: we have numerous layers of police, prisons, and federal law-enforcement agencies here.

While in the courthouse, I helped my CIRCLE colleagues put out a press release on youth voting in New Hampshire. In Iowa, youth turnout quadrupled compared to 2004. In New Hampshire, it’s hard to say what happened to turnout. There was no contested Republican primary, so New Hampshire Independents who might usually vote in the GOP primary voted in the Democratic contest. Voting by all age groups increased in the Democratic primary, but this seems meaningless. Furthermore, the under-30’s did not increase their share of the vote, as they had in Iowa. I wonder whether youth turnout was lower in New Hampshire than in Iowa because some young Dean supporters became disillusioned during the last week. Dean came first among the under-30s in New Hampshire, but some of his young fans may have stayed home.

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