Archive for Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Voter registration soars in Douglas County

‘There’s a lot of excitement’ for the Nov. 4 election

October 8, 2008

Interest in the November general election appears to be at a fever pitch.

And fewer than two weeks from the Kansas registration deadline, election officials expect the number of registered voters to keep climbing. Since the August primary, more than 2,200 new voters have registered here.

“This week, it’s exponentially increased,” Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said.

Shew expected the county to add another 2,000 or so registered voters to the 79,437 voters on the books as of Tuesday morning.

Democrats now make up the largest voting bloc at 27,357 people, compared with 27,283 independent voters and 23,951 Republicans. The rest are either Libertarian or Reform party voters.

Several groups around the county and at Kansas University have been working to register new voters ahead of the Oct. 20 deadline.

Members of KU’s Student Legislative Awareness Board worked Tuesday on Wescoe Beach.

“The excitement’s there, and we have to make sure that we’re visible and accessible to as many students as possible,” said Ryan Lawler, a Bolingbrook, Ill., senior and community affairs director for the Student Senate.

Since July, he and others have helped register about 850 students at residence or scholarship halls, greek houses or around campus.

Members of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County also have registered 103 people since July at several community events.

“There’s a lot of excitement over the election, and people have a real desire to participate that they might not have had in the past,” said Carrie Lindsey, president for the league.

Douglas County’s registration numbers have soared since the 2000 presidential election when 52,838 voters were registered, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. The county also had 65,181 people registered for the 2004 general election.

It’s possible that increase was due to change in reporting procedures. After 2006, the clerk’s office had to include “inactive voters” in the registration number. Inactive voters — which number up to 14 percent in Douglas County, according to Shew — can’t legally be taken off the books until after two federal election cycles.

In nearby Leavenworth County, the clerk’s office reported about 600 more registered voters this week compared with the tally for the 2004 general election.

Voting dates

The last day to register to be eligible to vote in the general election is Oct. 20. Advance voting begins next Wednesday.

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