Clock winding down to register

Clock winding down to register
October 02
00:00 2014

The voter registration machine is in full-throttle now that the Oct. 10 deadline is in plain sight.

“We have trained a lot of other groups on voting registration. We are making that last minute push,” said Linda Sutton of Democracy Winston-Salem: The Voting Rights Coalition. “We have been working in surrounding counties also helping various groups get their registration together.”

Republican lawmakers did away with same-day registration (although the NC NAACP is still challenging that in court), so those who are not registered by the deadline will not be able to vote in the crucial midterms.

NAACP branches across the state have been encouraged to hold or join registration efforts, according to S. Wayne Patterson, the president of the Winston-Salem branch.

Patterson said his branch has held eight registration drives this year, three of those were just in the past few weeks.

“We are trying to push the efforts through churches and community events,” he said. “The local elections are very important for the school board, judges and the U.S. Senate race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis. These are races that everyone should be focused on.”

While residents can go to the Forsyth County Board of Elections web site ( to register or drop by the office in the Forsyth County Government Center (201 N. Chestnut St.), advocates are making it even easier to register. Temporary workers have been hired – at $12 an hour – by grassroots organizing firms to scour the city looking for unregistered residents. Steve Hines, the newly-hired director of the Forsyth County Board of Elections said a steady stream of voter registration forms have been coming into the his office for processing.

“We have seen a pretty good amount coming in the last couple of weeks. Everyday we get a new batch coming in. We are seeing a good influx of voter registration,” said Hines, who added that more than 900 absentee ballots have been mailed out.

On average, the office has been receiving 400 to 600 registration forms a day.

“This is the first indicator that there is some interest in this election, which is always good,” Hines said. “Typically you see people waiting to the last minute so we are only going to go up (on registration forms) from here, we think.”

Hines said extra manpower has been brought in to help.

“We are having to do some overtime but we also brought some temps in for data entry to try and offset it,” Hines said. “We are in a good position right now in the office and are basically trying to stay above it when the registrations come in so we are taking care of them within a day or two of them coming into our office, which is very good.”

Sutton said registering voters is only half the battle. The get-out-the-vote effort to follow will be just as, if not more, important.

“We are targeting those who registered and normally don’t vote during midterm elections,” she said. “We will be providing rides beginning on the first day of early voting, also.”

Sutton said churches can play a key role in getting out the vote. Her organization and others have distributed educational materials at area churches and lobbied pastors to remind their flocks of the importance of casting their ballots.

To contact the local NAACP, call 336-727-3470. To reach Democracy N.C., call 1-888-OUR-VOTE.

UPDATE 10/02/14:  On Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated same-day registration and out-of-percinct voting ahead of the general election in November, according to the North Carlina State Board of Elections.

” We are concerned that changes so close to the election may contribute to voter confusion,” said BOE Executive Director Kim Stratch, in a press release. “More than 4 million voter guides have gone to the public with information contrary to today’s decision.

An appeal is expected in the U.S. Supreme Court.



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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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