Saturday, October 05, 2002

Group holds voter signup

By Robert Anglen</b>
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A group of African-American activists is hoping to sign up as many Cincinnatians as possible today for a chance to vote in the November election.

        Monday is the last day to register to vote in Nov. 5 election, so members of the Urban League and Baptist Ministers Conference will be working at grocery stores, churches and drugstores today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to encourage registration.

        “This is a last-ditch effort to get people out who need to update their addresses or who haven't registered,” Urban League President and CEO Sheila Adams said. “We want people to exercise their civil rights, to have a say in the community.”

        Ms. Adams pointed out that this is an off-election year - with no presidential election and no huge national debates - which usually means fewer voters participate.

        The Urban League and the Baptist Ministers Conference for years have sponsored voter registration drives and voter awareness campaigns. While their efforts target African-Americans, a group that has a historically low turnout in Cincinnati, Ms. Adams said the registration drive is open to everyone.

        Numbers for Cincinnati's eight mostly black wards show that fewer people are voting in city elections, even as the city's African-American population is growing. Between 1991 and 1999, the number of registered voters in those wards increased 6 percent, from 45,341 to 48,290. But the number of votes cast decreased 28 percent, from 22,120 to 16,026.

        Last year, in the city's first direct election of a mayor in more than 75 years, voter turnout was higher than usual in the black wards. In Evanston, it jumped from 41 percent in the 1999 council election to 48 percent. In Roselawn and Bond Hill, turnout went from 43 percent two years ago to 50 percent.

        To register, you must be a U.S. citizen and a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days before the election. Registering is as simple as filling out a form giving your name, birth date, citizenship status, age, address and signature.


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