Voter registration up for general election

Published 12:36 am Saturday, October 18, 2008

County election officials are working overtime to get voters registered for this year’s general election.

So far this month, 3,200 people have signed up to vote, according to the Board of Registrars.

“They are coming in herds,” said Jamie Crockett, board chairman. “We’re seeing a lot of college-aged voters but also older people who are wanting to vote for the first time in their lives.”

Since February’s primary election, almost 7,000 names have been added to the county’s voter list. Shelby County’s number of registered voters now stands at 113,680.

“We’ve been working overtime for weeks,” said Crockett. “It won’t let up until the election is certified.”

The board of registrars isn’t the only office working around the clock to prepare for the election.

Circuit Clerk Mary Harris and her staff are working nights and weekends to process thousands of absentee ballots.

“There is a huge interest in this election,” said Harris. “The phone is ringing off the hook. Everyday, it’s getting more and more.”

In the last presidential election, the circuit clerk’s office processed 3,100 absentee ballots. That record will likely be shattered this year.

As of Thursday, more than 2,000 absentee votes have already been cast. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 30.

Crockett and Harris both offered tips to make sure everyone’s vote counts.

Commonly asked question about voter registration are answered online at Registration forms and maps to polling locations are also on the site.

“If people can do it electronically, it’s really helpful,” said Crockett. “They can do this on the weekends and nights on their home computers.”

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 24.

Harris stressed the importance of making people fill out absentee ballots correctly. Even one mistake means the ballot will have to be returned to the voter.

“If people have any questions, please call us instead of sending it back with something wrong,” said Harris. “We want to make sure every vote is counted.”