Down to the wire in the Dan River Region
Oct 14, 2012 (Menafn - Danville Register & Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --On Friday morning there was a line to get into the Danville registrar's office on Main Street. People were running in and out and phones were constantly ringing. Several people lined up on the desk to fill out voter registration forms. Monday is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election and, as expected, people are flooding the office to make sure they are able to vote on Election Day.
Danville Registrar Peggy Petty has been at the office for almost 30 years and the crowds are expected. On Friday morning, there were 29,396 registered voters in Danville -- a solid percentage in a city with around 33,000 people of voting age.
Four years ago there were 29,259 registered voters -- the numbers are almost similar -- but they also constantly change as people move in and out of the community.
The 2008 presidential election had an overwhelming 72 percent turnout. Petty called the turnout "record breaking" and while the percentage is only slightly higher than the 68 percent turnout in 2004 and 67 percent turnout in 2007, Danville had a larger number of total registered voters.
Will the same number come out this year?
"I'm not seeing anything that would indicate anything less," said Petty, who is getting voters through the doors for seven presidential elections already. "The President's (race) is really contributing. All the comments we get are about the presidential race."
The presidential race will nationally bring in higher voter turnout than any local elections -- something campaigns are counting on. It is no secret that voter registration has been a major target of the presidential campaign. Danville, which went in President Barack Obama's favor in 2008, has been a blue spot in a sea of red.
The Obama campaign has now had its office in Danville since March -- a benefit of being the incumbent -- and has had people on the ground well before then holding voter registration drives and going door to door.
The Obama campaign now has 58 offices in Virginia, which has become a major swing state in the election and targeting some of their most likely voters -- minorities, people under 30 and women.
The Republican candidates now have two offices in Danville to get out the voter for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Senate candidate George Allen and Congressional candidate Robert Hurt. Voter registration forms are at both offices and hundreds of volunteers work weekly phone banks.
The candidates themselves have even been hitting the state hard. Both Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan have made stops in Danville.
Republican volunteer Dianne MacMahon of Danville said she has been making phone calls since July. By October she said she had made between 6,000 and 8,000 phone calls. Last Saturday she hit 152 houses.
Since Virginia does not require people to register for a party when they vote, it is difficult to determine how many of each party is registered.
With much of the attention focused on the presidential race, Petty said one concern many people are having is the changes in voter identification.
"We've had numerous calls. People are really confused," said Petty. "People are determined, it seems, that they need a photo ID and I am determined to tell them they don't."
To vote on Election Day, people must show identification, but the list of acceptable forms of identification has actually increased, making it easier for some people.
List of acceptable items to bring to be able to vote are voter registration cards, Social Security card, a valid driver's license, any government ID or student ID, and employee ID, a handgun permit or copies of a utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck with an address.
A photo ID is not necessary. However, everyone must be registered to vote by Monday at 5 p.m. to support their candidate at the polls on Nov. 6. Voter registration by mail is also accepted as long as it is postmarked by Monday. To register in person in Danville, visit the registrar's office at 515 Main St. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Holland reports for the Danville Register & Bee.
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