My friend received a letter summoning her to jury duty.

She has not received anything like that before, even though she is now in her 40's and has been a U.S. citizen all her life. Also she never registered to vote (due to personal conviction) in any election and thought that a summon to jury duty is only sent to people who have registered to vote.

Consequently she is wondering if this summons is legitimate.

I am not able to answer from experience as I am not a U.S. citizen, but thought that I ask here:

In USA, is it possible to end up being called to jury duty even if you have not registered to vote?

  • 10
    Not a direct answer to your question, but to the underlying problem: call the relevant court clerk's office if you're unsure whether the summons is legitimate. They will know whether they sent you one or not and should be able to confirm it.
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 2:52
  • 4
    "She has not received anything like that before, even though she is now in her 40's" - at least in the UK, I believe most people have not been summoned for jury service. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 12:56
  • 1
    It depends on what sort of area you live in. If your friend lives in a jurisdiction with low court case to population ratio, then it may be a long time before she is called. Where I live, you cannot be called more than once every three years, and every three years on the dot you get a jury summons.
    – David K
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 13:09

6 Answers 6


Yes, it is possible. The requirements are (1) you are a citizen (the burden is on the prospective juror to pay attention to that requirement) and (2) the court knows that you exist and calls you up for jury duty. Apart from voter registrations, drivers license data is also used (and can be dangerous, because non-citizens can have licenses and may not know that you must be a citizen to serve on a jury). Another source in unemployment benefits lists. The correlation with voter registration is one way of avoiding that problem.

In fact, Florida law states that the list of candidates "shall be taken from the male and female persons at least 18 years of age who are citizens of the United States and legal residents of this state and their respective counties and who possess a driver license or identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles", and does not sanction using voter lists. The Holmes County Supervisor of Elections confirms that only federal courts use voter lists, and state and local courts only use driver / ID card lists.

  • 6
    New York State, or at least Kings County, seems to use another source, since my wife as once called for jury duty without being registered to vote or licensed to drive or having applied for unemployment benefits (or any other government benefit). I suspect property records.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 2:54
  • 6
    In some places, if not enough people show up for jury duty the sheriff can go round up random people off the street. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 4:41
  • 4
    Will they let you off of jury duty if you don't identify as male or female then? Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 19:41
  • 7
    @Azor-Ahai if I had to guess why the Florida law cited says "male and female persons," I'd wager it's because at some point in history it was amended from "male persons." Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 22:59
  • 3
    @JohnR.Strohm I don't live in Florida, and identify as male. Relax a little. I have no idea why you think I would blame you ... Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 0:19

As a supplement to the other answers, I'll mention one notable means of securing jurors that does not involve voter registration or driver's license records.

In Colorado, there is a small municipality called Glendale, Colorado which is entirely surrounded by the City and County of Denver but is part of Arapahoe County. It has a couple of square miles or so of territory and about 3,500-4,000 adult residents, some of whom are not eligible to serve due to citizenship or other concerns, and most of whom are young adults who tend not to vote and who tend to ignore jury summonses. There are only half a dozen single family homes in the municipality, with the rest of the population living in apartment buildings or condominiums. But, it has lots of municipal court activity because it is an area with predominantly commercial development such as restaurants, strip clubs, big box stores, grocery stores, and high rise office buildings. On any given day, perhaps 50,000-100,000 people work or shop there.

Several times a year, not enough people show up at the municipal court in response to jury summonses to provide a jury pool large enough to conduct a trial on a day where someone facing criminal charges must be tried or have their charges dismissed on speedy trial grounds.

When that happens, the City of Glendale dispatches the police to roam the streets and apartment and condominium complexes of the city and the police literally apprehend random people walking down the street or going about their daily life at their homes, without warning, and deliver the people apprehended to the municipal court to serve as jurors, so that the pending criminal cases will not be dismissed. It is a bit like an ICE raid, but in reverse, because only U.S. citizens who are residents of the city are picked up.

  • 1
    Fascinating! But how do they confirm citizenship? Or does Colorado have some form of "Stop and ID" law that requires a citizen to identify himself to law enforcement even absent probable cause?
    – feetwet
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 21:48
  • Makes you wonder why they can't simply merge with Denver to avoid the troubles in the first place... Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 23:11
  • @feetwet Primarily, they ask people. People are happy to acknowledge non-citizenship if they know it gets them out of apprehension and jury duty, and if someone lies and says they are a non-citizen you don't want that person on a jury anyway.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 1:48
  • @JonathanReez The economic prosperity of Glendale has historically arisen from their ability to offer zoning leniency that Denver will not for NIMBY uses. The fire department is merged.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 1:49
  • Glendale isn't the only place that rounds up jurors off the streets in Colorado. denverpost.com/2018/03/22/logan-county-jury-duty
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 5:58

Yes. I was in the exact same situation. I am in my 40's, never voted or registered to vote. I received a summons.

I found out they actually use drivers licenses to issue the summons. I believe it is common to call people in their 40's since people in their 40's tend to be more mature, but still have their mental faculties intact.

I'm not sure if the purpose of your question is "how do I get out of jury duty" but the summons usually contains options for getting out of it if you don't want to serve. I have people who rely on me so there was an option for that. At least in my case they never checked.

  • 4
    "I believe it is common to call people in their 40's tend to be more mature, but still have their mental faculties intact." Do you have a source for that claim?
    – user194
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 19:11
  • No, not necessarily. As I remember it, I got tagged the first time in Austin TX in fall of my freshman year at UT Austin, right after I turned 18. I asked for a reschedule, because it was the FIRST week of class, and they excused me completely because I was a full-time college student. Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 22:35

Yes - in California they simply go through the local DMV listing. As someone else mentioned, it's incredibly lazy because the burden is on you to prove that you're unqualified.

In some locations (e.g. San Diego, California) they don't follow up on jury summons because they're massively over-subscribed. Of 820k summons send out in San Diego every year 230k don't respond (that's about ~28%) and no effort is made to follow up for procedural and cost reasons: https://www.10news.com/news/empty-threat-thousands-of-san-diegans-blow-off-jury-duty


All US Citizens of legal age may be called up to serve on a jury*.

States run their own court systems, and how they chose to find their citizens for jury selection is (within some constitutional limits) entirely up to them. I believe most federal courts pick jurors from the current local pool in the state in which they are convening, so they basically piggyback off of the relevant state's selection system.

Historically back before computers, the only large databases of of-age citizens and their addresses which states had easy access to was their voter rolls. So the easiest thing for them to do was to use that database to select jurors from. However, in the computer age many more databases are available. Also, it was felt that a significant part of the problem of eligible voters not registering to vote was people trying to avoid their jury duty.

So today states can easily get addresses of citizens for jury duty from any number of other databases, and some states have even passed laws against using voter rolls for this purpose. Some examples I've seen are tax rolls and drivers license databases.

So if you are refusing to vote just to get out of jury duty, that most likely won't do the job.

* - People called up can often get excused for various reasons of course, including things like mental incapacity, hardship, etc.

  • 4
    Personal note: At age 50 I've served on 2 juries. I found it a very good experience, and really no hardship at all. For people for whom it was, you can usually get excused (I saw it happen). Moreover, its how justice gets done in our country, and as a person who benefits greatly from that, its both a duty and an honor to serve.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 17:58

Even as a non-US citizen, I received the Jury duty letter in MA. To get a waiver, you need to submit proof if you are not a U.S citizen along with relevant documentation indicating your status. So, I am not surprised that your wife (as a U.S citizen) received the notice. The letter will contain detailed information on how you can respond to the notice if you do not qualify (which was applicable in our case).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .