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Archive for Monday, October 12, 1998

VOLUNTEERS HOPE MESSAGE REGISTERS

October 12, 1998

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The Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters wants to get more voters registered and to the polls.

It takes two minutes.

And from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, you'll be able to do it at the grocery store.

The Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters is holding a voter registration drive this weekend, setting up booths at 11 local grocery stores and businesses to register residents to vote.

``Registration is the first step to getting out to vote,'' said Rita Spradlin, the league's voter service chair. ``You can't go to the polls if you're not registered.''

The league's registration drive is getting a helping hand from the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Association of University Women and the Lawrence High School Local Youth in Government. The organizations are helping supply volunteers. It will take about 60 to run the drive all day.

``It's just a very easy process,'' Spradlin said. ``It takes two minutes or less. ...They have to read the oath and sign.''

All someone has to do is fill out a single, half-page form and sign it. Then league members will return the form to the Douglas County clerk's office.

``Voter registration is one of our very favorite things to do,'' league President Jinny Ashlock said. ``You feel like you're doing some real concrete thing to draw attention to voting and make it possible for that person to vote.

The deadline to register for the upcoming general election is Oct. 19, so the league's drive is one last push to get voters registered. However, it won't be the end of their campaign to get voters to the polls.

``A lot of people don't register, and they don't go to the polls,'' Spradlin said. ``The reason they usually give is they don't have enough information.''

With registration forms, the league is handing out a page of information on voting. The page has polling times, what the races are and information on advanced voting. The league sponsored a candidate forum last week. The idea, Spradlin said, is to raise interest in the issues and in voting.

Either the day before or the day of the election, the league is joining the Kansas University Student Senate to staff a 25-phone bank to call registered voters and remind them to go to the polls.

``People need to realize that their vote counts,'' Spradlin said.

The league has already registered 125 voters at elementary school open houses. At the Lawrence Public Library, it has a ``Come and Go'' registration booth, with forms and a drop box.

With all its programs, the league hopes to register 1,000 to 1,500 people before the deadline, but the county clerk's office isn't likely to be buried in a mountain of registration forms on the 19th.

``I don't foresee getting a big crush,'' said Jo Dalquest, the deputy county clerk. ``It's pretty steady, really. Closer to election it picks up a bit. It depends on the election, though.''

There are more than 54,000 registered voters in Douglas County. In general elections, between 50 and 70 percent of registered voters turn out.

To register to vote, a person must be a citizen of the United States, a resident of Kansas, at least 18 years of age, and have had their civil rights restored if convicted of a felony. Citizens should re-register if they have changed their address or name since the last election.

The league is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages citizen participation in government. Ashlock said that to join, one just needs to pay dues.

``You pay your dues, period,'' she said. Members need to be of voting age, but may be male or female. The group holds general meetings four times a year. There are around 150 members in the area.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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