Richmond, Columbia Counties inch toward 100 thousand registered voters ahead of Election Day

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A local group wants to encourage voters and non-voters to get excited about Election Day this November.  A rally took place at the Henry Brigham Community Center Tuesday to make that happen.  The Celebrate the Vote Rally – 2016 Voters Rally and Symposium was put on by Augusta’s Interfaith Coalition.  The goal was to encourage and inspire all voters to vote and to know the importance of each voting referendum.

NewsChannel 6 checked in to see if the numbers showed whether people are excited now.

“I can’t emphasize enough how easy it is to register to vote and how accessible it is now as opposed to what it once was,” said Lynn Bailey, Richmond County Board of Elections Executive Director.

The countdown to vote kicked off with National Voter Registration Day, which took place Tuesday, September 27.

“Am I registered? Do I need to get registered?  What’s my ballot going to look like?  Let me get that sample ballot and figure out where my polling place is and basically start getting your act together as a voter,” Bailey said.

She said there are around 98,500 registered Richmond County voters. There are more than 99,000 in Columbia County, according to the Board of Elections there with 1,000 registrants each month since May.  Bailey expects there will be 105,000 registered by Election Day.  The rest have until October 11 to register in Georgia. Many, she thinks will opt to do it online.

She said the number of people registered falls in line with the population.

“We have remained at around 200,000 citizens reported on the census for three consecutive censuses now.  So, our numbers are about the same and we have also seen our voter registration number maintain a steady pace.  So we know what to expect during a presidential election,” she explained.

Craig Albert, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Augusta University, told NewsChannel 6, “People that are on the fence about for whom to vote or whether to vote at all, neither candidate is appealing to them at all.”

Though choosing a president may be difficult for some, Albert said disenfranchisement should compel them to head to the polls.

“Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1919 – 1920.  Blacks didn’t get the right vote [until later].  Really the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of ‘64 and ’65,” he recalled.

Albert added both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are failing to reach independent voters, many of whom are millennials.  But as people are still registering, he said there’s something called an October surprise that might help them decide.

“It’s really going to take a catastrophic failure of one of the candidates or a destructive self-implosion that forces the apathetic voter to the polls,” Albert described adding that an economic change could also push undecided voters and non-registered people to the polls.

People living in Georgia have until October 11 to register to vote.  Those wanting to take care of that online can do so here. The final day to register in South Carolina is October 8.  You can register online in the Palmetto State here.

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