Voter registration problems are already starting
ASK THIS | June 15, 2008
How big is the registration drive among blacks? Among young people? When applications aren’t filled out properly, do officials tell people -- or do they just put those applications aside, setting up major Election Day problems? These are stories everywhere; news organizations can be working on them now.
By Barry Sussman
Q. How is voter registration going in your area? How many new voters have been registered until now? What kind of problems have there been?
Q. Is there a voter registration deadline? What is it?
Q. Are extra staff needed, and are any being hired, to help register new people?
Q. What’s the breakdown among those newly registered—how many Democrats, Republicans and independents?
Q. How did colleges in your area handle registration, and what are their plans for the fall?
Q. Are officials taking steps now to avoid problems on Election Day, or—perish the thought—are they hoping to create Election Day problems?
In Louisiana, according to a New York Times story, there is a massive voter registration drive in largely black neighborhoods. Offices have been swamped, new staff hired and some are working 12-hour days. But some people, perhaps many, aren’t filling out applications properly. Therefore, according to the Times, “there is a concern that large numbers of people who believe they are registered will show up at the polls in November, only to find that they cannot vote.”
The Times story said that two groups, Project Vote and Acorn, “a left-wing national organizing group, have teamed up to conduct large voter drives across the country, with the goal of registering 1.2 million people by Labor Day. They have already submitted 600,000 applications, said Michael Slater, the deputy director of Project Vote. Acorn is among several groups registering voters in Louisiana.”
In addition to checking on drives to register African-Americans, reporters and editors will want to look into registration of young people in general.
Barry Sussman is the editor of the Nieman Watchdog Project. He is the author of The Great Cover-Up: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate, now in its fourth edition.