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Voter Registration Efforts Kick Into High Gear

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 24 Sep 2012 04:39pm | comments
Voter registration sign at Jackson State University.

There are approximately 1.8-million Mississippians are registered to vote and, today as part of National Voter Registration day, are underway to increase that number. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports voter registration drives are bringing thousands of new voters onto the rolls, but also challenging election officials.

Wearing a shirt reading 'vote like you life depends on it', 20-year old Jeffernique Levi is one of  the volunteers registering new voters.

Levi, a Jackson State student, says she is helping others register because she is excited about her chance to vote for a president.

"This is my first time and I am just ready to get the word out. Because everyone should have a say so in voting and should have a word on it," Levi said.

Jackson State University student government President Brian Wilks estimates that voter registration drives in dorms and outdoor events have signed up more then 25-hundred students and residents who live around the campus.

"Their vote matters now. At the end of the day if you are really concerned about your education. If you are really concerned about what goes on in the future of the United States, vote. Its not about who you vote for. Just make sure you go out and vote. It is your right. It is your duty. It is your cause to go out and vote," Wilks says.

However, The surge of voters registering is a heavy burden on Mississippi election officials who are trying to keep track of where eligible voters live and vote.

David Becker with the Pew Center on the States, a public policy research firm, says that can often lead to problems such as long lines and legal voters being turned away.

"Very little registration activity occurs in the four years between presidential elections. And there is a huge spike in activity right in the 30-to-45 days before a presidential election. Most of that activity is paper. That paper, of course, needs to be processed. People need to decipher the handwriting. It is very difficult for election officials and it is a tremendous challenge," Becker said.

Registration volunteers say many Mississippians have questions about the state's new voter ID law, mistakenly thinking the photo ID requirement will be in effect this year.

That law is currently under review by the federal department of Justice, and Mississippi's secretary of State says the voter ID law will not be in effect for November because it is too close to the General election to fully implement

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Voter registration sign at Jackson State University.


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