Record-number turnout for voter registration

October 20, 2008 11:29:40 PM PDT
There were long lines in Alameda County on Monday as a steady stream of people beat the deadline to register to vote.

There is so much excitement about this presidential election that record numbers of people want to be a part of it. Alameda County joined forces with AC Transit and sent out a special voter registration bus all over the county since early September.

Record-breaking is the description we are hearing from everywhere. More people signing up to vote than in any other election, and a big factor in those registrations are new, young voters.

On the Berkeley campus Monday morning representatives of the student body estimated they signed up 500 new voters in about five hours.

"Just in terms of number of students we've registered, it's over a 20 percent increase now when you look at 2004 numbers," said Ricard Gomez with Associated Students of UC Berkeley.

Students we talked to say this time 18 to 29-year-olds will turn out to vote because it is a chance to be part of a particularly historic election.

"Especially with Palin being a woman, even like Hillary when she was running that was already creating a lot of excitement and so Obama being the first African American and kind of having a different perspective on things also gets a lot of youth excited," said student Nikki Cruz.

"We'll probably get 17.3 million registered voters out of 23 million elligible in the state, but that again would be a record for us," said Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir who is tracking registrations statewide.

Weir says ACORN, the liberal group accused of registration irregularities in several states, has not played much of a role in California. He says if there are problems of long lines on Election Day, it will be at college campus polling places.

"We have one college voting site in my county and we're beefing up that staff," said Weir.

In North Carolina, where 323,000 new registrations have been filed, Democrats have out-registered Republicans by 2-to-1. However, the big difference is that 18 to 29-year-olds make up 47 percent. Nearly half of the 323,000 are under 30.

ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain says new registrations are changing the demographics in several battleground states.

"In Ohio there is a report that at least 50 percent of the new registrations since the convention have been people between the ages of 18 and 29," said Professor Cain who believes that shift tilts towards the Democratic candidate. "We know from the polls that the younger voters and the African American voters are heavily in Barack Obama's camp."

But that is not always the case. At Berkeley, the campus Democratic club is outnumbered by the campus Republican club.

"They (Republicans) are the largest group on campus? I was surprised to find that out as well," said Cruz.

You have until midnight Monday, October 20 to register to vote. Click here for information on how to register. Also, for information on early voting, click here.

There are some locations holding late night voter registration hours in the Bay Area:

Oakland:
Oak Street between 12th and 13 streets
Outside Rene C. Davidson Courthouse
5pm-midnight

San Francisco:
Outside City Hall
Grove Street entrance
Note: The Dept. of Election office will be closed, but people will be outside City Hall to collect registration cards until midnight.

Sonoma:
Drive-up window outside registrar's voter office, open until midnight. Registration forms will be available at the window.

Santa Cruz:
Elections office parking lot
Volunteers will be collecting forms until mdidnight


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