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ACORN Kicks Off Columbus Voter Registration

The political organization known as ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, held a rally Thursday on the Near East side of Columbus. The group says it has begun its voter registration drive in advance of the 2008 elections.

The meeting in Columbus was part rally part, volunteer voter registration recruitment effort. ACORN Columbus Chair Donald Coulter says young adults, lower income citizens and people of color are underrepresented in Ohio's electorate.

"Only 66 percent of Ohioans earning less than $25,000 per year are registered to vote," Coulter says. "That is compared to 88 percent of Ohioans earning over $100,000 per year."

Coulter says that while 72 percent of white Ohioans are registered, only 65 percent of blacks are. He called the numbers "troubling disparities."

State president Mary Keith said there's a misconception that keeps some people from registering.

"A lot of people think that their vote doesn't count," Keith says. "They think that, 'Aw, well, they're going to put anybody in there that they want to put in there. That's not so, your voice does count."

Leroi Ferrell, an ACORN member from Cincinnati, reminded the crowd at the Sawyer Recreation Center that the organization is non-partisan.

"We don't particularly support anybody," Ferrell says. "But what we do is register and give you the right to choose who you want to choose."

But John McClelland, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, disagrees with that. He says ACORN is "overly partisan."

"ACORN is notorious in Ohio for false voter registration cards, registering people who don't exist, so if they can figure out a way to solve their own problems, both parties in this state, both Republicans and Democrats are interested in getting as many people who are legally able to get registered and vote especially in a year like this when elections are so important," says McClelland.

ACORN says it has registered more than 220,000 people in Ohio during the last two years.