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Locals push for voter registration

NATCHEZ — With only a week left before the books close for voter registration for the Nov. 6 presidential election, several local groups around the Miss-Lou were out hustling to register voters Friday.

Three voter registration drives were conducted in Natchez Friday, and a fourth will be in Vidalia from 3 to 8 p.m. today at the Masonic Hall.

Working the registration table outside the Brick House on Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Henry Houze said the goal of his organization — the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity — was to make people aware of their voting opportunities and to make the registration process more accessible to them.

“We had one gentleman who registered with us who said it was easier to do it here rather than having to go downtown,” Houze said.

While the voter registration drive was part of a national initiative on the part of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Houze said locally the group had partnered with several other organizations for effectiveness.

Jacqueline Marsaw with the Natchez-Adams County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said that in addition to the NAACP and KAP, the Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities, the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the Coalition of 100 Black Women had collectively registered approximately 600 new voters, including 300 on the Alcorn State University campus.

But the mix of first-time voters wasn’t all young people, Marsaw said.

“We had a lady who was 95 years old who had never registered to vote before register,” she said.

A number of those who registered had said they were motivated to participate in the election by recent coverage of the candidates and comments they made, Marsaw said.

Adams County Circuit Clerk Eddie Walker said it’s not unusual to have a steady stream of new voter registrations as elections approach, but that thus far the current electoral cycle has not generated an above-average interest in first-time registrations.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that next week it would be more than the norm,” Walker said.

Concordia Parish Registrar of Voters Golda Ensminger said her office has seen in increase in registrations, but not a notable one.

“You usually have a surge of registrations right before the books close,” she said.

Voter registration for the November election ends Oct. 9 in Louisiana. Those who register to vote there have to provide a provide a picture ID, and they have to be able to prove their age, identity and residence in the parish.

Walker said voter registration in Adams County for the November election will end at noon Oct. 6. Those who register have to fill out a form requesting their name, date of birth, address, Mississippi driver’s license or ID number and telephone numbers. The clerk’s office is open from 8 a.m. to noon today and Oct. 6 for registrations.

A 30-day residency requirement has to be met before someone can register in Adams County, Walker said, and those who don’t have a state driver’s license or ID card will be asked to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number.