Voter registration push begins

Trump, Clinton battle it out in 2016's new social media landscape. (AP file)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Thousands of people across the country, including right here in Erie County, are expected to be filling out voter registration forms today as part of National Voter Registration Day.

“People, I feel, are getting out more to vote,” said Harrell Little.

The Erie County Board of Elections members say this day kicks off their busy season and begins final push to get people registered for November’s election.

“It’s your civic duty,” said Little, the registration supervisor the county’s board of elections. “It’s something that gives you the ability to make change in your local area.”

More than 580,000 Erie County residents are registered to vote. Little says that’s up by almost 10% since the last presidential election and they anticipate the number to keep increasing as the 2016 election gets closer.

Little says the number of new registrations coming in isn’t as big as 2008 – when President Barack Obama first ran for office; saying they saw between 35,000 and 40,000 new people registered in the weeks leading up the election. Little says he is noticing something different though this cycle – an increase in women registering. Little says it’s usually split 50-50 between men and women registered but that has changed now to almost 54% women to 46% men.

“That’s a huge increase,” said Little.  “It’s no longer half. Your females are definitely coming out to vote.”

“I have definitely seen a lot of women looking to register,” said Wes Thomas, a project coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “It’s a big year – first female presidential candidate – that’s huge.”

He is helping students at Buffalo State College register to vote.

“It’s definitely a mixture, a mixed bag,” said Thomas.  “You have some excited [students] realizing how important of an election this is.”

The age group he’s looking to register, the 18-20 year olds – make up less than 3% of the county’s registered voters.

“We gotta have a voice, we have a say.”

Thomas says he’s looking to change that and increase the number of young people engaged in the civic process.

“Arguably, we have the most at stake- the decisions politicians make on issues like tuition hikes, things like tapping the environment, affect our every day lives.”

Little is seeing this age group use social media to get people interested in politics and registering. He feels they could see an increase in this age group registering for that reason.

“Individuals work together in getting together to make the voter drives,” said Little. “Register. So you’re able to make a difference as a community.”

If you want to vote in the November 8th Presidential Election, you must be registered to vote by October 14th.  

Note: The state still uses a paper form which can be picked up at any county government building, a post office or library. It has to be completely filled out, signed and handed in, in person, or mailed to the Erie County Board of Elections, by October 14th.

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