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Drives aim to increase voter rolls by November

While a massive voter registration drive is underway in McDuffie and surrounding counties for the November General Election, a local election official is urging early voting for the upcoming Sept. 16 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax Referendum.

Devin Jenkins, who is working with the Sen. Barack Obama Presidential Campaign, told members and others at Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson last Sunday night that the voter registration drive began last week. He emphasized the importance of getting registered and then voting in the Nov. 4 General Election.

Mr. Jenkins also said officials with Sen. Obama's campaign plan to open an office this week in Thomson. The site is expected to be located in the Knox Shopping Center and will serve supporters in several adjoining counties.

He also met with a local group of residents to organize a voter registration drive at the RSC Club in Thomson on Monday night. The group canvassed the neighborhood afterwards - picking up where some began last Saturday.

The deadline for registering to vote in the Nov. 4 General Election is Oct. 6, according to McDuffie County Elections Director Phyllis Wheeler. She also attended last Sunday night's meeting, providing information to perspective voters. Ms. Wheeler also fielded several questions from the estimated 100 people who attended.

During her talk to perspective voters, Ms. Wheeler spoke about three main issues: the importance of having a photo ID; early and advance voting and voting by mail.

Early voting for the SPLOST V Special Referendum began Monday.

"I strongly encourage as many of you who can to vote early," Ms. Wheeler said.

A photo ID is required in Georgia before persons are permitted to vote by machine. However, if a person without a photo ID wishes to vote, they can do so, but they have to vote by paper ballot. And then they have two days or 48 hours in which to bring elections officials a photo ID. If the photo ID is not brought back into the office within that time, the vote becomes void, Ms. Wheeler said.

"I don't want anyone to lose their vote, especially this year," Ms. Wheeler said. "I want every vote to count."

Although she's not ready to make any predictions about a turnout for the General Election, she is saying that she believes it will be "high." In Richmond County, an election official has predicted an 85 percent turnout.

Another reason that Ms. Wheeler is urging early voting is because there are so many issues on the ballot. Included on the ballot is the presidential race; ballot questions and four seats on the McDuffie County Board of Education.

"It's going to be a full ballot," Ms. Wheeler said, saying it would be to the advantage of voters to study the ballot before casting their votes. "Please study the ballots."

Anyone with additional questions, including change of address information, etc. may contact the McDuffie County Elections Office at 706-595-2105.

Web posted on Thursday, August 28, 2008

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