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Va. Orders 200,000 Additional Voter Registration Forms

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 15, 2008; Page B01

RICHMOND, Sept. 14 -- Virginia elections officials have ordered an additional 200,000 voter registration forms because of shortages in some parts of the state and an expected crush of new registrants over the next three weeks.

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The new forms, the first batch of which should arrive at state offices this week, were requested by the State Board of Elections after it distributed nearly 350,000 registration applications in July and August. Many were sent to county elections boards and the Department of Motor Vehicles, but groups trying to register voters also have gone through tens of thousands of applications.

"We are definitely seeing increased demand, but this is a presidential election year," said Nancy Rodrigues, secretary of the State Board of Elections. She noted that 250,000 registration forms normally last an entire year. "We are getting to the end of our pile, which his why we are being proactive in getting more printed."

With Virginia shaping up as a battleground state this election, presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are rushing to register as many voters as possible before Virginia's Oct. 6 registration deadline.

Obama's campaign has been especially aggressive in trying to register new voters, believing they hold the key to his efforts to become the first Democratic presidential nominee since 1964 to win the state.

In addition, the State Board of Elections has partnered with real estate and apartment associations to remind people who recently have moved to update their address information. The state board is also holding call-in shows during news programs in which viewers can speak with registrars to check if they are registered.

Since Jan. 1, the state's voter registration rolls have swelled by 211,000 people, to 4,796,855.

Rodrigues said that county elections offices and the DMV should still have enough applications in stock to meet demand until the new forms arrive.

But Debbie Shrager, who is trying to register Democratic voters, said officials at the Arlington County Office of Voter Registration told her last week that they were out of forms.

"I requested any they could give me," said Shrager, who is volunteering for Vote Virginia, which seeks to register voters who support Democrats. "They told me they had none to give me. I asked when they would get more, and they told me they had no idea."

Donna Patterson, Arlington's deputy registrar, said her office has not run out of the forms but limits how many applications can be given to one person.

She also noted that registration forms can be downloaded from the State Board of Elections Web site, http://www.sbe.virginia.gov. Under Virginia law, voters can register using photocopied forms.


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