Voters line up as registration deadline nears

CNJ Staff

Curry County Director of Elections Connie Jo Lyman said the last minute rush to register, “Is wilder than I have ever seen it in 23 years.”

Lyman said Monday there is little doubt people don’t want to miss their chance to vote in this election.

“They seem to think (Monday’s) the last day (to register), which suits us just fine,” she said.

The deadline to register to vote is 5 p.m. today.

Lyman said there were lines of residents Monday waiting to fill out registration cards in the clerk’s office.

Voters will elect either the first woman vice president — John McCain running mate Sarah Palin — or Barack Obama the first black president.

Last week’s signing by Congress of a $700 billion bailout plan for Wall Street and looming crisis as financial markets struggle to stay afloat in the wake of a soured mortgage market has also intensified the race.

She said 1,859 absentee applications were already entered in the system and another 50 applications were waiting to be put in.

Lyman said military members voting from locations abroad make up a large number of absentee voters.

And she said higher registration numbers are typical during a general election year.

Mail-in registrations will continue to trickle in and will be accepted as long as they are postmarked before the deadline.

She said her staff is behind on the data entry side of the process, so the final numbers won’t likely be in for a couple of weeks, she said.

Last week, Lyman reported there were 21,250 Curry County residents registered to vote — 10,262 Republicans and 8,053 Democrats.

In the 2006 gubernatorial election, the clerk’s office reported there were 21,058 registered voters in Curry County — 10,238 Republicans and 8,080 Democrats.

Lyman, who is running for county clerk, said she has pulled back from some of the election work to maintain fairness in the process.

“We always get down to the wire and get a little overwhelmed,” she said. “They’ve got a horrible week ahead of them. I’m helping where I can.”

Absentee voting will begin after registration deadlines have passed.