Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Voter rolls in Hamilton County growing

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports a 7 percent increase in registered voters year to date. That's over 13,000 new voters. Davidson and Shelby Counties are also reporting thousands of new registrations.

Democrats are clearly being more aggressive in voter registration than Republicans in the push:

Democrats contend the increase in new voters bodes well for their party and their presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Local party workers have registered more than 2,000 voters since the first of the year. Their goal is to register another 1,000 before Oct. 6, the deadline to register in Tennessee. The election is Nov. 4.

“I think in years past voter registration has been a part of the ‘get out the vote push,’ but this year it is markedly different because the Obama campaign has such a grassroots campaign,” said John Bailes, the Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman.

Local Republicans have a more passive effort to draw out new voters, said Connie Weathers, the Republican Party chairwoman. The GOP provides information to anyone who comes into party headquarters, but they aren’t going door to door to find new voters, she said. There’s no way of telling whether those people actually will support the GOP candidate or even show up on election day, she said.

But what will the impact be? Experts agree that it won't have much effect in the presidential race where John McCain is expected to run away with a win in Tennessee. What about legislative races? New registrations are unlikely to have a significant impact because many of the competitive seats are in rural areas and not in the urban areas where the numbers are up.

TEP has been emphasizing voter registration on a steady basis since June. But what we're finding is that most of the members of the GLBT community who are on our lists or attending events (even big events like Pride) are already registered. It would be interesting to find some demographic information on who is registering--men/women, race/ethnicity, Zip codes, age, etc.

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