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Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004

County reports record voter registration

Presidential race drives disaffected into action

October 20, 2004

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Toby Sumner could have voted in the 2000 presidential election.

But the 23-year-old didn't cast a ballot. He said he didn't feel the need.

This election, however, is different.

"I have a few differences in opinion from what our commander-in-chief decides he wants to do and when he wants to do it," Sumner said. "Most of the directions he seems to lead us -- it just doesn't seem to be right."

He's not alone.

As of Tuesday, Douglas County voter registration had increased by more than 10,000 compared with the 2000 election. And county officials still were tabulating a wave of sign-ups that came during the final hours before Monday's deadline.

The heightened interest in Douglas County parallels reports from elsewhere in the nation that a highly polarized presidential race has prompted registration among those who might otherwise have stayed on the electoral sidelines.

Sumner said he knew he had to register to vote, but he was one of many young people who waited until the last day to register.

County officials had tallied 62,928 active registered voters as of Tuesday, and officials were still working to count people who registered in the last few days. In the last presidential election, the county had 52,838 active registered voters. Of that number, 40,182 people voted in the 2000 election.

Clockwise from top left, Stephen Scott, Adam Schreiner, Dejon
Neugebauer and Laura Pearson register to vote on the steps inside
the Douglas County Courthouse. Monday was the last day to register,
and county officials reported Tuesday that voter registration was
up at least 10,000 from the last presidential race.

Clockwise from top left, Stephen Scott, Adam Schreiner, Dejon Neugebauer and Laura Pearson register to vote on the steps inside the Douglas County Courthouse. Monday was the last day to register, and county officials reported Tuesday that voter registration was up at least 10,000 from the last presidential race.

Marni Penrod, elections deputy for Douglas County, said voter rolls usually include about 10,000 voters who are deemed inactive because they've died or moved without notifying election officers.

"I'm sure we're going to see a large increase in voter registration" once the final count is complete, County Clerk Patty Jaimes said. "I think the (political) parties and other groups have been very busy trying to get people involved and registered."

A sizable increase in registered voters statewide also is expected, though no tally has been compiled yet, said Jesse Borjon, a spokesman for the Kansas Secretary of State's office.














There were nearly 1.6 million registered voters in Kansas during the August primaries.

Jaimes and Penrod said they had scores of voter registrations still to enter into the county's database. Penrod said there were more than 1,000, and it would take a week to get all the data entered and have an official number of registered voters for the county.

It's typical to be behind on entering voter information during a presidential election year, Penrod said.

"It does seem like there's more this year than in 2000 and it was busy then, too," Penrod said of the last minute registration cards that poured in.

Wanda Walling was one of those who registered Monday.

Though she has voted her entire life, Walling, a Lawrence resident for two years, said she had been planning to sit out this election. The 70-year-old said she didn't register to vote when she moved to Lawrence and hadn't planned to.

But her conscience got the best of her Monday, she said, when she was at the courthouse to renew her car tags.

"I saw the forms there to register and I thought, 'it's a sign,' and I decided I just should really register," she said. "It makes me feel good. I did my job. I did my civic duty."

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