On One Hand

October 6, 2008

Registration Drives End

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:13 pm

After months of standing on public corners or going door to door asking people if they need to register to vote, the tables have turned. The deadline to register in Colorado is now passed. Those who refused to register are no longer important to us or any campaign, only those who did register are.

I volunteered with a campus voter registration drive for the last four hours before the registration deadline at 5pm today. There were a ton of people who waited until the last minute, and we were passing out something like three forms per minute until 3:30pm and then six or more forms a minute when we got down to the last hour. The table we worked from was a mosh pit and we ran out of clipboards, passing out loose forms to have people fill them out on whatever hard surface they could find.

When we finally had to close shop and get the forms to the post office to be postmarked by 5pm, we ended up turning a dozen people away.

I don’t have sympathy for everyone we turned away. I know that most of them shrugged off our volunteers again and again but expected us to bend over backwards for them less than thirty minutes before we had to deliver the forms to the post office. I do have sympathy for a few of them. After a student memo allerted CU students to the driver’s liscense number crisis, thousands of people checked their registration status, saw that they were not on the list and rushed to fill out another form. Some may actually need to re-register, but most of them just haven’t given the county clerks enough time to process the data and will find themselves on the rolls in the next few weeks. I can’t blame them for being serious about voting and following everything through, especially after all the drama.

I also found out some info about the driver’s liscense number crisis by talking to some of the other groups doing last-day registration on campus – and what I learned is that hardly anyone has the same facts. Some think that you can write your social security number even if you have a driver’s liscense as long as you check the “I don’t have a driver’s liscense” box, and were telling people to do that. Others were telling people NOT to check that box because it is a crime to falsify data on a government form, saying that only those who check the box anyway will be purged and those who don’t will be asked to follow-up.

I also found out that the Boulder county clerk has been sending letters to people who have a driver’s liscense and didn’t use it on the form. The letter has a spot for people to write their driver’s liscense number and send it back so that their entries can be corrected on the voter roles.

New Era, the group I volunteered with today, told people who didn’t know their driver’s liscense number or have their driver’s liscense handy to fill out the form as best they could and turn it in with the missing info, so that the county could send them a follow-up form to collect the missing data.

Other counties are not doing being cooperative with voters, which calls into question the fairness of the situation if it’s easier for and harder for others to register. I know El Paso county is sitting on 25,000 forms waiting till the last minute to process them, so those people certainly won’t be contacted. Denver County is sitting on 3,000 forms specifically sorted as having failed to check the “I do not have a driver’s liscense” box. The county has not yet decided what to do about them

Hopefully all counties will be ordered to send out the letters collecting follow-up data and everyone who filled out a registration form will have a chanve to be listed properly. It’s unfair to punish voters for a breakdown of communication that turns out to be so bad that nobody in the state actually knows the proper way to fill out a voter registration form.

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