Thursday, October 4th, 2012...12:49 pm

Groups aim to sign up, educate unregistered voters

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There will be an all-out effort this weekend to register as many eligible people to vote as possible and inform them about issues and candidates in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
For 36 hours beginning at 6 a.m. Friday, volunteers with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth will be in Lexington reaching out to register sometimes-overlooked people before the Oct. 9 deadline.
Their targets will be unregistered people using public transportation, as well as college students, busy blue-collar workers, the low-income population and the homeless.
“During our voter registration efforts, we attempt to go out to the places in the community where we can meet folks who likely aren’t registered,” said Ondine Miranda Quinn, Central Kentucky organizer for the grassroots group.
This weekend, those places include the Lexington Transit Center, the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University campuses; New Life Day Center, the William Wells Brown Community Center, the Lexington Farmer’s Market, public libraries, bars and downtown neighborhoods.
“We always do this,” Quinn said. “We work on a lot of other issues that rely heavily on a voting populist.”
Ginny Ramsey, co-director of the Catholic Action Center, said volunteers will be making picture identifications for the 180 residents in Catholic Action Center rental housing, as well as those at the center and the Community Inn.
She said she has always stressed the importance of voting to the homeless population she serves, but this year volunteers found an inexpensive way to offer signed picture IDs as well.
Those who are seeking a picture ID, many of whom are veterans, are already known by the volunteers at the Catholic Action Center, she said.
“We’re not just saying come get a fake ID,” she said. “They are also filling out the voter registration form at the same time. Just having the picture ID gives them more confidence to vote.”

A signed picture ID is not required to vote in Kentucky, however. If a voter doesn’t have one, a credit card, social security card or simply knowing the poll worker is all that is required.

Once people are registered to vote, several groups will be hosting information sessions and candidates forums to educate those voters.
The first forum will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of Lexington and the Lexington Public Library downtown on Oct. 6, and will feature most of the candidates vying for the state House of Representatives.
Opponents in the 88th, 76th, 79th, and 45th districts, in that order, will have time for opening and closing remarks and to respond to questions submitted in writing by audience members. Each district will have 45 minutes.
From 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Oct. 13, most of the candidates vying for Urban County Council seats in districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 and 12, in that order, will ask for your votes.
“Our mission is to involve people in government and in their democracy,” said Cindy Heine, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Lexington. “It is important to be informed, so we try to help voters get information about the candidates and help them make an informed choice. The League has been doing this for many years.”
If you miss the forums, a video will run repeatedly on the library’s cable channel (Channel 20).
Other forums include Operation Turnout’s third venture into putting candidates and voters together.
At 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18, candidates will address issues in the minority community beginning at Shiloh Baptist Church, 237 East Fifth St. Candidates for the 6th Congressional district, the 7th and 13th state Senate districts; the 76th, 77th and 88th Kentucky House districts and Urban County Council races in Districts 1 and 2 are scheduled to share their positions on issues affecting the minority community. Plus, representatives of both presidential candidates will be on hand to discuss issues.
On Oct. 27 at Central Library, the Lexington Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is sponsoring a morning panel discussion of issues such as the Affordable Health Care Act, the death penalty, women’s mental health and the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons. That discussion will be followed by an afternoon session with local candidates answering questions.
“I don’t think it will impact who people will vote for, but the issues are things the public needs to know about,” said Chrysanthia F. Carr-Seals, co-chairperson of the sorority’s Social Action Committee.
With voters registered and informed, KFTC volunteers will then focus on mobilization by operating phone banks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 5.
They will call the voters they registered and remind them to go vote on Nov. 6. They will also tell voters the locations of their precincts and offer them rides if they don’t have one.
Obviously there are a lot of people who think voting is a privilege that shouldn’t be ignored or neglected.
“We need to build a healthy democracy that works,” Quinn said.
And we can do that by becoming a government of the people once again.
Remember to register by Oct. 9 and vote on Nov. 6.

If you go
Candidate forums
All events are free.
League of Women Voters of Lexington: Central Library Farish Theatre, 140 E. Main St. (859) 494-3203.
■ State House candidates. 1:15-4:15 p.m. Oct. 6.
■ Urban County Council candidates. 10 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Oct. 13.
Operation Turnout Voter Education Candidate Forum. 6:30 p.m., Oct. 18. Shiloh Baptist Church, 237 E. Fifth St. (502) 641-3676.,
Lexington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Issues and Candidates Forum. 10 a.m.-noon and 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m., Oct. 27. Central Library, 140 E. Main St.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

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