Board extends hours for registration

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2000

The push is on to arm county residents with voting know-how.

Monday, January 17, 2000

The push is on to arm county residents with voting know-how. Lawrence County Board of Elections officials announced extended office hours this week in an effort to increase voter registration.

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The election board office on the first floor of the courthouse will be open 8-4:30 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week, beginning Monday and ending when registration closes Feb. 7, director Mary Wipert said.

The office also will be open 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Fridays during the week.

Future voters can also register at schools, libraries, state offices like the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department for Human Services, Mrs. Wipert said.

And, while most people already have had the opportunity to sign up for a trip to the ballot box, extending registration hours also raises awareness of the need to vote, she said.

"Regardless of which party you belong to, you ought to exercise your right to vote," election board member Bob Griffith said. "It’s one of the most sacred freedoms we have and it helps us run our country, our city, our village the way we see fit."

As of the November 1999 election, 38,628 county residents were registered to vote. But only 16,286 voters headed to the polls.

"If people would only look at Cuba and the situation with this little boy," Griffith said.

Reports are that if the boy is returned to Cuba, the government will place him in an orphanage until age 15, then place him in the army until he’s 27, Griffith said.

"The government can do it because the individuals don’t have many rights," he said.

Voting is every American’s right and it should be exercised in order to protect the freedoms that people enjoy in this country, Griffith added.

Election board workers don’t expect the number of registered voters to increase sharply, but do expect some change.

When groups are running levies, registration increases because they want to get the vote out, clerk Thalia Holtzapfel said.

"During the last election, there were a bunch of new ones, at least 600," she said.

Those residents registering to vote do not have to choose a political party. Voters choose a political party when they vote in the primary.

When registering, potential voters need only to provide name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, phone number if applicable and sign the registration form, Ms. Holtzapfel said.

Or, a registration form can be mailed to the board by the applicant.