Voter registration up significantly in Niles and Niles Township

Published 4:12 am Friday, October 8, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Voter registration numbers are up across the state of Michigan and also in Berrien County.
Monday was the deadline for those wishing to vote in the Nov. 2 elections.
In the City of Niles, approximately 8,402 voters registered, an increase of 348 voters from the 8,054 registered during the 2000 election year, Niles City Clerk Ruth Harte said.
In Niles Township, 9,414 voters registered for the 2004 election, a 50 percent increase from the 6,266 voters registered during the 2000 election year, according to Niles Township Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt.
Berrien County saw an increase from the 113,474 registered voters during the Aug. 3 primary, to a total of 116,725 registered voters as of Monday, said Berrien County Chief Deputy Clerk Loretta Schabloski.
The 2004 total is up from the 2000 General Election total of 114,358.
Registration numbers are up across the state as well. Ken Silfven, communications specialist for the Michigan Department of State, said voter registration was approximately 96 percent in 2004, a state-wide increase of 3 percent compared to the 2000 election year.
Silfven attributed the rise is voter registration numbers to both major political parties making voter registration a top priority.
Harte echoed Silfven's thoughts, citing that both Republican and Democratic parties made a greater push to reister voters.
Silfven also cited non-profit groups like Rock-the-vote, which targets and encourages young voters to register.
The Secretary of State also took initiative to register young voters with the mobile branch office, which travelled to 10 universities throughout the state, including Grand Valley State Univeristy, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Northern Michigan University.
But registration totals can be misleading, Silfven said.
In 2000, 93 percent of the estimated 7,358,000 members of the voting aged population registered in the state of Michigan, but on election day, just over 62 percent of the registered voters went to the polls to vote.
In the Presidential election of 2000 in Berrien County, 57 percent of the 114,358 registered voters actually exercised their right to vote.
Approximately 50 percent of registered voters in the city of Niles made it out to the polls in 2000.
Harte said voter turnout in 2000 was pretty typical of the area.
But Harte is optimistic more voter will make it to the polls come November, due mostly to activity she's witnessed among those interested in voting.
The perceived increase in activty lead Harte to order more ballots in preparation for the increased voter turnout.