Mobile office will allow people to register to vote at local community centers

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Mobile office will allow people to register to vote at local community centers
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By Regine Victoria (File photo)

For the first time ever, Alexandria’s voter registration office has hit the road, setting up mobile voter registration offices across the city on select days be- tween now and August 5.

City registrar of voters Anna Leider said her office hopes to capitalize on the publicity and interest surround- ing the upcoming presidential election to get people active in the political process. With the main parties national conventions underway, Leider said now is the perfect opportunity to convert people’s interest into action to get ready to vote in November.

The stops on the agency’s journey are primarily local libraries and recreation centers. At these locations, the AVRO offers several different services to the public.

Those who stop by are able to check their voter registration status. If they would like to register to vote or if some of their personal information has changed and needs to be updated — such as changes to their name or address — they will be able to update their status with laptops made avail- able by the AVRO.

In accordance with Virginia’s voter ID law, voters must be able to display an acceptable form of photo identification. Staff at the mobile voter registration offices will be on hand to confirm which forms of ID will be accepted on Election Day. If voters find that they do not have a valid ID, they will be able to apply for a voter photo ID card — free of charge.

Leider said in order to receive a free photo ID, voters must make sure their voter registration information is up to date and fill out a short application. Afterwards, their photo will be taken as well as their signature. In two weeks, the voter identification card will be mailed and delivered to their current address.

One main roadblock officials wanted to target through the mobile voter registration effort is the fact that some residents don’t have secure Internet access. The laptops and computers provided at these locations enable those who need these tools to get ready to vote in an easy and safe way.

Leider said coming to City Hall to register to vote can be a laborious process for residents who do not live in Old Town. Reaching out to residents through efforts like the mobile voter registration office makes signing up quicker
and less of an ordeal.

“What we really hope to accomplish is to make this whole process easier and more accessible for those who don’t normally have the means,” Leider said. “Because we’re moving around to several locations, we’re hoping to reach more people.”

If voters are unable to go or fear they will not have the time to go to the polls on Election Day, staff at the mobile voter registration office will be able to provide an absentee ballot, which can be completed and mailed in.
So far, the turnout has only brought small groups, but that doesn’t discourage Leider. Though she admits that their initiative may not be as “cool” as the van from the state Department of Motor Vehicles going around, she feels confident that they will be able to reach a lot of people who need it.

“Though we haven’t seen huge groups of people, the people who have come have really been appreciative of what we’re doing,” Leider said. “A lot of people don’t feel comfortable going to register with third party organizations be- cause there’s a lot of sensitive information they have to give out. Those who have come have shown more confidence in entrusting us with their information.”

The mobile voter registration office will be at Charles Barrett Recreation Center, located at 1115 Martha Custis Drive, from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, and at the Kate Waller Barrett Library at 717 Queen St. Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. For a complete list of dates, times, and locations AVRO is going to, visit www.alexandriava.gov/news_display.aspx?id=92928.

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