Registration spike heralds interesting election

Published 9:01 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

The statistics are pretty amazing, and they get more so with every update.

More Americans than ever before are registered to vote. For the first time in history, the city of Suffolk has more than 50,000 voters on its rolls. More than 480 people have already cast absentee ballots for the Nov. 4 election.

With Suffolk voters directly choosing their mayor for the first time, it would have been a historic election in Suffolk this year, even without the precedent-shattering aspects of this year’s presidential election.


Email newsletter signup

Add that dimension to the city’s hotly contested mayoral, council and school board races, however, and the first Tuesday of November is shaping up to be a long night for members of the local Electoral Board.

Facing an 11-percent increase in registered voters as of Oct. 14 and with a pile of applications left to process, Suffolk Registrar Sharon Thornhill has hired four part-timers to help out with pre-election duties and 40 more people to help out on Election Day. Tuesday’s due date for campaign finance reports added even more stress to an office where workers recently have become strangers in their own homes.

Suffolk’s increase in registered voters leads the state’s increase by just over two-tenths of a percentage point, so it’s likely that local politics are not the driving force in new registrations, despite the historic nature of the local election.

Nonetheless, the massive get-out-the-vote effort at the national level could have some interesting effects on the local races. Prepare for long lines at the polls. And be ready for a long night of ballot-counting beginning at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.