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Voter registration deadline nears.

Byline: Kevin Miller The Register-Guard

Lane County residents and other Oregonians eager to join the rapidly growing, possibly record-setting crowd that will vote in the Nov. 2 election have barely a week to get themselves registered.

Registration cards must be delivered to elections offices or postmarked no later than Oct. 12. County officials plan to start mailing ballots Oct. 15.

As of Friday, nearly 197,070 Lane County residents had registered, said Lane County Clerk Annette Newingham. She's pretty sure the 1996 general election holds the county record with 197,861 registered voters, although long-term comparisons are complicated by changes in registration and voter verification procedures.

With new registrations arriving at a rate of about 1,000 a day, she's expecting this year's total to surpass the 1996 number.

"We could possibly get over 200,000," she said. Newingham added that new registration cards have been arriving in such large numbers that her staff is about four days behind in processing them.

"I'm starting to get a little nervous about how many ballots I've ordered," she said. County voters needn't worry; she still has plenty of time to order more from the printer.

Newingham said elections offices across the state are seeing similar enthusiasm from prospective voters, possibly because the last presidential election was so close. Democrat Al Gore won Oregon's electoral votes in 2000 with just 6,765 more votes than George W. Bush, out of 1.53 million cast. Strong registration drives by political parties and interest groups appear to be driving registration numbers toward records.

"We're all getting hit pretty hard," she said. State election officials said in September that statewide voter registration was been running about 3 percent or 4 percent above same-month tallies for the 2000 general election.

Newingham pushes voter registration and participation year-round, year after year. She said she's been impressed with county residents' passion to participate this time around.

She gets a firsthand sense of that passion when she has to tell voters about problems with their registrations. Typically such problems are easily fixed, but the very possibility of being excluded can get a caller quite excited.

"They get really upset because they're afraid they're not going to get to vote," she said. "They'll say, `You know, it's really important to vote in this election,' and I'll say, `Yes, I know it is.' '

REGISTERING TO VOTE

Voter registration cards must be postmarked or delivered by hand to Lane County Elections, 275 W. 10th Ave., Eugene, no later than Oct. 12. For more information, call 682-4234.

Online: Information on registering, including answers to common questions about identification and re-registration after a move or name change:

www.co.lane.or.us/ Elections/Registering ToVote.htm

Forms in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format:

www.sos.state.or.us/ elections/votreg/ sel500.pdf

Other places to get forms: Financial institutions, chambers of commerce, libraries, post offices (including in stores), colleges, city recorder offices, many county offices, DMV offices and in Qwest telephone directories in the blue government section
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Title Annotation:Elections; Lane County residents have just more than a week, until Oct. 12, to sign up to participate on Election Day
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 4, 2004
Words:501
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