ID cards to be sent to new voters soon

Lisa Hammer

Voter ID cards are on the verge of going out to 500 county residents who have registered since the February primary.

It’s been a longer wait than usual for the new voters to get the cards because the State Board of Elections is in the process of assigning all voters new state numbers, replacing the county numbering system, in order to conform to new federal laws designed to prevent people from voting in more than one jurisdiction.

County Election Commissioner Barb Link said in recent months her office has fielded a lot of phone calls from newly registered voters wondering where their voter ID cards are. Her office has been checking each name and reassuring the people that their names are in the county’s computer system.

Throughout the 20th century, Henry County voted Republican in presidential elections (with one exception) until 1988, when they voted for Michael Dukakis.

Starting in 1988, however, the county went for Democrats four elections in a row — two of the candidates ultimately losing (Dukakis in ‘88 then Al Gore in 2000).

The lone exception to voting Republican for president happened in 1912, when the county opted for former Republican president Theodore Roosevelt, who ran on a third-party ticket.

The county voted for Gore in 2000, but four years later returned to the Republican column, voting for Bush in 2004.

In the 2004 primary, the county had 5,501 registered Democrats and 8,845 registered Republicans. Turnout was 38.6 percent of the total of 37,190 registered voters. This year, turnout in the primary was 46.6 percent of all registered voters in the county.

Today’s split between the two major parties is closer to 50-50: 8,271 Democrats and 8,368 Republicans.

There were 37,190 registered voters four years ago and there are 36,534 today — but that may not reflect the true number of new voters in the county, according to Link.

The county does a county-wide purge every four years as well as a purge every two years of those who haven’t voted in two federal elections. Before their names are dropped, voters receive a regular voter card which the post office doesn’t necessarily have to forward, as well as a second card before being dropped, which the post office must forward.

Names are also removed by the county  based upon death notices.

Using information she’s received from the State Board of Elections, Link said she expects another 500 people to register to vote in the November election before the Tuesday, Oct. 7, deadline.