Hundreds Volunteer to Register F.C. Voters as Deadline Looms

Obama Campaign Swarming Metro Stops, Big Events

Buoyed by national polls showing almost two-thirds of newly-registered voters favor Sen. Barack Obama for president, volunteers for Obama are fanning out by the hundreds from the campaign’s Falls Church headquarters in a final push before the voter registration deadline of Oct. 6.

Kate Stanton, a volunteer coordinator at the S. Maple St. Obama office, told the News-Press yesterday that every Metro station, the Northern Virginia Community College campuses, groceries stores and all heavily-populated assemblies are being inundated with campaign volunteers to find new people to register.

Stanton, a graduate of McLean High School, just graduated from the University of Michigan and is now a full-time, non-paid volunteer for Obama. She spoke with the News-Press over the clamor of scores of volunteers working phone banks and otherwise crawling over the expansive space that the campaign rented at 360 S. Maple.

“Come in here around 6 o’clock tonight, and you’ll see hundreds of people cramming into this place,” she said.

A major “canvass” of the City of Falls Church, involving 45 volunteers, was slated last night, involving going door-to-door to promote their candidate and register voters where needed.

This weekend, canvassing teams will pour out of the office at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, and noon and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Stanton said she had no intention of becoming so involved when she moved back to McLean after graduation to help her mother move into a new home. “I showed up to volunteer one day, and the next thing you know, I was roped in full-time. I didn’t have a job lined up, so I was available.”

Now, she says she works from 9 a.m. to midnight, many nights, seven days a week. “It’s exhausting, but the reward will be so great if we beat Sen. John McCain,” she said. “Everybody’s really excited and happy.”

Northern Virginia is considered key to Obama’s chances, nationally. It provided the margin of victory in three statewide Democratic wins this decade, starting with Gov. Mark Warner in 2000, followed by Gov. Tim Kaine and Sen. James Webb.

Many of the campaign signs posted in the headquarters and available for distribution by volunteers include the name of Warner, now running for the U.S. Senate against former Gov. Jim Gilmore, on them.

Every rush hour, morning and evening, volunteers have been registering voters at all the Northern Virginia Metro stations, coming away with 15 to 20 new registered voters during each three hour period at each station.

“We also have people walking into our office asking for 100 or 200 registration forms to take to an event they’re going to,” Stanton said.

Betty Coll, chair of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee, has been in charge of voter registration efforts at the weekly farmers’ market in Falls Church, and at other local events.

There is no one dominant demographic among those being registered, Stanton said, but there are a lot of young people.

“We’re getting a lot of people who will be both registering and voting for the first time, including many who have been old enough but just not used to voting. It is very important for us to help make sure they’re properly registered, for one thing, since they have only until Monday to do that,” she said.

Many are unaware that if they’ve moved, they need to re-register with their current address. It is also important for us to remind people to check if their friends, their family members and neighbors are also properly registered.

“We’re also reminding people that if they’ll be working or otherwise unable to get to the polls on election day that they can go vote ‘absentee’ at City Hall right now,” she said.

The non-partisan Falls Church League of Women Voters has also been actively promoting voter registration efforts, providing information on how to register and check the status of registrations.

While registration forms can be pulled off the Internet and mailed in, they must be postmarked by Monday, Oct. 6, to be valid, Joan Lewis, local league chair, noted. Persons can register at the Falls Church City Hall, 300 Park Avenue, or at any office of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Forms are available on the Internet through links at Status of registration can also be confirmed through links on that site.