NEW YORK - Americans are registering to vote in record numbers ahead of the November 2 election, a report said.
Monday is the deadline for registering to vote in some of the crucial swing states -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida -- as well as 12 other states, the The New York Times said.
Voter registration is a local affair in the United States, conducted with different rules and deadlines in cities and counties across the country. Voters do not need to re-register unless they have moved.
So while it is impossible to tally the number of new voters nationwide, or to predict whether they will actually vote, something is clearly afoot this year, as the United States wages a messy war in Iraq, after the worst terror attacks in US history and the vote recount fiasco four years ago.
"Everything we're seeing is that there has been a tremendous increase in voter registration," Kay Maxwell of the League of Women Voters told the Times.
"In the past, we've been enthused about what appeared to be a large number of new voters, but this does seem to be at an entirely different level."
Election officials around the country are hiring temporary workers, adding equipment and working around the clock to process a flood of registration cards, the report said.
Said an election official in the midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri: "We are moving toward having the largest number of registered voters in the history of St. Louis County."
In Tallahassee, Florida, epicenter of the 2000 vote recount, the number of registrations is up 20 percent since the presidential primary in March.
In Cleveland, Ohio, a wave of 230,000 new registrations is more than double the number recorded ahead of the last presidential election.
The rate of new registrations is triple what it was in 2000 in the southwestern city of Las Vegas.
Election officials say nonpartisan community groups and Democratic activist groups are mostly behind the registration push, and that huge gains are being made in low-income and minority areas. The pace is slower in rural areas and non-swing states.
The Times reported last week that Democrats had far outpaced Republicans in efforts to register new voters in two key US states, after conducting county-by-county analysis of registration data in Ohio and Florida.
This grass-roots accomplishment could clinch the presidential race if the effort bears out nationwide and if the new voters go to the polls on November 2.
© 2004 AFP