With the presidential election just around the corner and a deadline looming, a voter-registration drive will be held Saturday in Mount Airy.
St. Paul AME Church at 321 N. South St. will be the site of the drive, scheduled from 2 to 6 p.m.
The church is hosting it in partnership with the Surry County branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Any local resident who is planning to vote in the Nov. 6 general election but not registered to do so is invited to attend Saturday’s drive, according to Faye Carter, president of the Surry NAACP.
Volunteers at the church will have forms available and assist with the registration process.
At such drives, those registering can elect to have the sponsoring groups forward the paperwork to the Surry County Board of Elections or simply pick up a form and mail it in themselves, according to Susan Jarrell, county elections director.
Jarrell said it is “wonderful” when organizations such as the church in Mount Airy and the NAACP host registration drives and said others may do so as well.
Oct. 12 is the deadline to register to vote on Election Day, although citizens can complete that process during a one-stop, early voting absentee period to be held beforehand. However, someone desiring to cast a ballot on Nov. 6 must sign up no later than Oct. 12.
In order to register, North Carolina residents have to be at least 18 years old or their 18th birthdays must occur by the date of the general election.
Though Nov. 6 is still weeks away, Jarrell said there has been a recent surge of interest among citizens wanting to register at the Board of Elections in Dobson.
“We have had a tremendous amount,” Jarrell added Wednesday. “We are having 10 to 20 people coming in a day to do voter registrations.” She expects that to continue.
“I think it will be bigger this time around,” Jarrell said of interest in the 2012 presidential race compared to those of previous years.
“Normally, the week right before registration closes people will start coming to our office,” said Jarrell, who indicated that this flurry has occurred earlier. She attributes it to recent political activity on a larger scale.
“Both parties have had their conventions and they got a lot of national coverage,” Jarrell said.
Another factor cited by the elections official involves a recent barrage of political advertisements by super PACs (political action committees) in so-called battleground states that are expected to decide the presidential race. North Carolina and Virginia are among that small number of states.
Jarrell added that the absentee ballot by mail period opened last Friday and the elections office has mailed 350 of those ballots. Voting by absentee is an option open to anyone, she said, since North Carolina does not require the citing of an excuse — such as being out of the county on Election Day.
GOP Has Edge
As of Wednesday, Surry’s voter rolls revealed a lead by the Republican Party over the Democratic Party in numbers of registered voters — which has widened since the first of the year.
The GOP boasts 17,489 registrants, compared to 16,700 registered Democrats.
As of last Dec. 30, the last business day of 2011 — when Republicans had just overtaken Democrats in Surry County for the first time in history — the margin was 17,091 to 17,088 in favor of the GOP.
Surry had 9,515 unaffiliated voters and 98 registered Libertarians as of Wednesday. The ranks of both have increased since the first of the year, while Democratic registration has dropped by nearly 400 people.
In 1980, Democrats held more than a two-to-one advantage in Surry, boasting 19,175 registered voters to the Republicans’ 9,652.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.