A hotly contested presidential race and an aggressive registration drive should expand the pool of eligible voters in Douglas County beyond 40,600 for the November election, the county clerk said today.
Clerk Patty Jaimes predicted that voter registration in the county for the 1992 general election will exceed the county's November 1988 total of 40,574.
"This is a presidential election year," she said. "I expect registration to go up, to be higher than four years ago."
Jaimes said the race between Republican George Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, as well as the short-lived effort by Ross Perot, perked interest in national politics.
Voter registration campaigns conducted by the Douglas County-Lawrence League of Women Voters, Kansas University's Associated Students of Kansas and a half dozen other organizations will help bolster voter turnout, she said.
NEARLY 50 volunteers working with the League of Woman Voters operated registration booths Wednesday to Saturday in Lawrence. During the four-day campaign, 1,235 people were registered.
"We were surprised by the number of people registering for the first time," said Mary Miller, president of the local LWV chapter. "These weren't just the 18-year-olds. Other ages were showing interest for the first time."
Miller said a majority of individuals registering for the first time didn't indicate they were simply interested in kicking incumbents out of office.
"A lot of them came forward out of a feeling of responsibility. They want to be part of the process," she said.
The theme of the national league's registration campaign is "Take Back the System," based on the idea that political change occurs when citizens are empowered by the vote.
"They can't hear you if you don't vote," said Becky Cain, national president of LWV.
KATHRYN Price, co-director of KU's ASK, said that's the philosophical basis of the voter registration drive organized by ASK, a student lobbying group.
"Legislators and politicians don't think they need to respond to students' interests because students don't vote," she said. "If more students register, that will give us more of a voice."
The organization's "Hawk the Vote" drive has registered approximately 700 students at orientation sessions, in residencehalls and at local concerts.
"We get a good turnout because students realize for the first time how easy it is to register at school," Price said.
ASK will have a registration table at an entrance to Memorial Stadium before Thursday night's KU-California football game and before the KU-Kansas State University game Oct. 10.
A registration table also will be staffed by ASK in front of Wescoe Hall from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Oct. 5-9.
The deadline for registration is Oct. 19.