Knowing the rules of voting

Today is Election Day for the presidential primary. Two more election days fall in this calendar year, including the local election in May and the presidential election on Nov. 6.

What many people are unaware of is the importance of properly completing the registration process in order for a vote to count, and the proper location where they can go to cast their vote.

To register in the state of Virginia, voters have to apply to register through the Virginia Voter Registration Application Form, which can be found online or picked up in the City of Lynchburg Registrar’s office. The address a potential voter writes down determines which polling place he or she must go to.

According to the General Registrar for the City of Lynchburg Carolyn Sherayko, students have a difficult time understanding the importance of filling out their registration card correctly. On-campus students often forget to include their mailbox number.

“The most frequent thing lacking is their mailbox number, no matter what college they go to,” Sherayko said. “For those who attend Liberty, it is important to decipher whether they live on campus or at the Annex, because those are different addresses.”

In regards to students registering correctly, the second most difficult voter situation deals with students who register in two different states, such as Virginia and their home state. Students have the freedom to choose whether to vote here or to vote in their home state, but not both.

“By signing on the registration form that all information is true and accurate, they are implying that they intend to stay in the area for an indefinite period of time. What they often forget is when they graduate and leave the area or move at any time, they must update their registration,” Sherayko said.

Sherayko also spoke of the challenges they face when having to organize multiple voter-registration lists. The amount of students between the four colleges in the area makes it difficult to make deadlines, but with the help of volunteers, it is somewhat easier to move the three-month election process along.

Jeff Helgeson, City Council representative for the Wards Road area, spoke of the new precinct areas for local voters. These include the Lynchburg Public Library, the Vines Center, Sheffield Elementary School, Heritage Elementary School and Heritage United Methodist Church. Helgeson, a Liberty alumnus, currently serves on the Council’s Finance and Planning Committee.

According to a recent USA Today article, studies show that out of the 24 million voter-registration records in the United States, about one in eight are inaccurate or duplicates. Nearly 2.8 million people are registered in multiple states, including 1.8 million who are are deceased. Those estimates, which came from a report published by the Pew Research Center, depict a faulty paper-based system.

The 1993 National Voter Registration Act made it easier for people to register by allowing them to register as soon as they received a driver’s license. Also, according to the Pew Center, that same law made it more difficult to remove someone from the voting lists. It stated that unless officials have a death certificate or a written confirmation saying they’ve moved locations, a voter must miss two presidential elections before they are removed.

Pew’s solution to this problem creating a multistate data center giving officials voter registrations, motor vehicle records and death certificates from other states, allowing them to spot records that could be removed.

States holding Super Tuesday GOP primaries

Alaska — 27 delegates
Georgia — 76 delegates
Idaho — 32 delegates
Massachusetts — 41 delegates
North Dakota — 28 delegates
Ohio — 66 delegates
Oklahoma — 43 delegates
Tennessee — 58 delegates
Vermont — 17 delegates
Virginia — 49 delegates

Note: Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will appear on the Virginia ballot.

Editor’s note, March 8, 2012: WSLS 10 in Roanoke ran a story on Liberty students voting in much higher numbers than the state average. Check it out here.

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