Local voter registration up

Published 12:04 pm Saturday, August 16, 2008

During the slow times, they talked about strawberries and rhubarb and other things, but as soon as someone walked through the door, it was down to business.

Members of the Austin Area League of Women Voters offered voter registration at the Austin Public Library Friday and Saturday in preparation for the Sept. 9 primary election and the Nov. 4 general election.

The league has spent time at the library the past two weeks, informing the public about the upcoming issues and the importance of registering in advance.

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“It’s easier and much faster to be registered ahead of time,” said Kristine Allas, voter services chairperson for the league.

Allas said registering early can save residents the hassle of filling out the paper work on election day when the wait may be longer.

She also said most people appreciated the league’s recent efforts.

“If you can get them to stop, people are very positive with comments they make that we’re out here,” she said.

At least 19 people registered Friday alone, including Verneice Beckel, an Austin resident for the past 40 years who recently changed addresses. “I think it’s great,” she said, about the registration opportunity. “It’s been very easy and convenient.”

The Austin Area League of Women Voters will also be offering registration at its primary forum Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. at the city chambers. The event is open to the public. Registration can also be made at city hall, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Over the past decade, voter turnout in Mower County has increased, according to the Mower County Auditor’s Office.

General election turnout improved from 78 percent of registered voters in 1996 to 83 percent in 2004. Roughly 22,000 residents are registered in Mower County, 12,299 in Austin alone.