Mid-South churches transform lobbies into voter registration centers

Hundreds of Mid-South churches became voter registration centers Sunday in anticipation of November's historic election between John McCain and Barack Obama.

It's all part of a new bipartisan effort to get people involved in the upcoming election. Organizers are hoping to attract the thousands of Mid-Southerners who've never registered.

Before and after Sunday services, congregations like First Baptist Church in Binghampton set up voter registration tables in their lobbies and urged people to sign up.
Newly-registered voter Maurice Woods says he's not putting off voting for another election.

"I sit back, like I said the last past years, not having an input. But I think this year, registering will make a difference in voting."
Woods said First Baptist Church members like Brunetta Mason helped change his mind, as well as the minds of many other Memphians now registering.

"I've run across so many people that were not registered -- people 50 and 60 years old hadn't voted in 20 or 30 years -- but they've wanted to vote this time," said Mason.

First Baptist is one of about 1,000 Mid-South churches participating in voter registration campaigns.
 "This is nonpartisan. We just want to get people registered to vote," said Pastor Keith Norman of First Baptist Church. "This in not about party affiliations, religious creed or color background or anything of that nature. This is just an opportunity for young people and citizens to be informed about what their rights are when it comes to the voting process."

Organizers hope to add another 100,000 people to the voter rolls through this latest drive.

Woods, 39, says he now understands and fully appreciates the importance of voting.

"Then if you didn't vote, you can't sit and say 'Well, I didn't have a chance to say my input.' So I think registering to vote will make a difference for everybody."

Organizers say the voter registration sessions will continue every Sunday through October 5.

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