October 4, 2012 11:02:41 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
With the deadline for voter registration fast approaching, area circuit court clerks and volunteers alike are urging people to register to vote by Saturday. Those who fail to register by Saturday are not eligible to vote in the November election.
Lowndes County Circuit Court Clerk Mahala Salazar said her office has seen a flurry of activity in recent days.
"A lot of people are checking on voter registration," she said.
Salazar added that when people move, registering to vote in their new district is the last thing people think about.
Those voters could potentially be flagged inactive, Salazar warned.
If the clerk's office sends a jury summons to an address and it is returned, the election commission sends a confirmation to the voter. If the confirmation is also returned, the voter is flagged inactive.
If that person shows up to vote on election day, they will have to vote via affidavit, or a paper ballot.
"People typically don't think about it until election day," Salazar said. "Check on it now. Don't wait."
The clerk's office will be open until noon on Saturday registering voters. Voters can also download a form from the Secretary of State's Office and mail it to the clerk's office.
Salazar warned voters to mail the registration by Friday, since postmasters in Lowndes County do not mark the postmark date on the weekend.
"I look at voting as a civic responsibility," Salazar said. "I can't imagine anyone not participating in the process our forefathers fought to give. Blood was shed for this right. The system that we've established doesn't function the way it was intended to if citizens don't participate, because you're not getting candidates elected by the true consensus of the people."
Equally enthused about registering voters is Nadia Dale, a volunteer for LAYIBI Village, Inc., a local youth and community development organization.
Dale and volunteers from Mississippi University for Women's Young Black Leadership Alliance have been setting up stations at various venues around Columbus to register voters.
"It's tough work, but we're happy to do it,'' Dale said. "We're just grateful for the managers at McDonalds and Walmart for allowing us to come to register the voters. Participation is much better when you can actually go where they are."
The group has also canvassed several areas on the north and south sides of town. They will continue to register voters today and Friday during breakfast and lunch at McDonalds on Highway 45. They will also be attending "Flirt Friday" at the Premier Night Club in hopes of registering new voters.
With 39,301 voters registered in Lowndes County, Salazar said she is expecting a large turnout for the Nov. 6 election.
"I think the draw this time is going to be the presidential election and the local candidate benefits from it," she said. "Voter turnout broke all records in the last (presidential) election. I'm anticipating the same thing this time."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.