Voter Registration Drives Underway at Local Libraries (VIDEO)

Alex is just 13 years old, but he is already setting the example of civic engagement.

On Sept.7, the student and his father, Michael Westerman , volunteered for a voter registration drive at the Bethesda Library – one of many drives promoted by the Multicultural Outreach Committee and Future Vote Program of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Alex is an eighth grader. He likes helping the community and thinks it is important to vote to have your voice heard. The student has worked on voter registration drives last June and is doing it again this September.

Michael Westerman, of Bethesda, and his son, Alex.

Michael Westerman, of Bethesda, and his son, Alex.

“I think it’s important [to vote] because is what I would call a technical democracy because- yes, there’s the president, but he has the power to make some of his own decisions. I think it’s a good idea to vote to have your own opinion expressed,” Alex said.

There were not a lot of people at the Bethesda voter registration drive.

“We generally only have done this [voter registration drive event] five times and we’ve only registered six people,” Alex said.

A Board of Election official said even though this event did not have a high turnout, it does not mean all other drives had the same outcome.

“One of the challenges as we get closer to the election is that individuals realize ‘oh there’s something going on’ … It’s like your taxes; everybody waits until the last minute,” said Gilberto Zelaya, outreach and early voting coordinator at the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

According to Zelaya, volunteers are trying to reach potential voters at a combination of places such as libraries, community centers, festivals, and high schools.

He was at the Gaithersburg library on Sept. 6 and said he registered six people, and handed another 15 forms to residents who chose to mail their registration.

“The problem is that you can’t assume that everything is done online. … We serve the public, so a lot of times we have to meet the public half way. … We need to go out as much as possible,” Zelaya said.

According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections online report, during the month of August, 2,815 people registered to vote, but 620 were residents who sent duplicate information.

Besides registering to vote at voter registration drives, residents can update information such as a name change, address, or party affiliation.

The group of volunteers from the Multicultural Outreach Committee and Future Vote Program of the Montgomery County Board of Elections plans to hold additional drives throughout the month of September in Silver Spring, Burtonsville, Poolesville, Olney, Wheaton, Germantown, Potomac, Bethesda, and Rockville.

Christopher Borawski, assistant branch manager at the Bethesda Library, added that voting registration forms are always available at the library to Montgomery County residents.

“I think it’s important to have them [drives] in the library because this is one of the few places where the entire community is welcome to come,” Borawski said.

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 4 General Election is Oct. 14.

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About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.


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