Belly up and register to vote

Voter registration is a weekly event at Spanky’s Bar
Friday, October 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:29 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Voting registration was a reason to party Thursday night at Spanky’s bar in the Holiday Inn Executive Center.

Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton and County Clerk Wendy Noren were there to help promote voter registration to patrons and employees.

The event is the brainchild of retired disc jockey Curtis “Boogie Man Soul” Brown, who is providing the music. He said he came up with the project out of a desire to help people. It will be a weekly opportunity at the bar from 5 p.m. to midnight.

One Boone County resident, 19-year-old waitress Elizabeth Haus, registered to vote that night because she “never knew how to before.”

Brown said people can help ensure the best leadership by voting.

“There’s only like 12 or 13 percent of the people that vote in America,” Brown said. “(Those people) run our offices, they vote them into office. If I can get that 85 percent to register to vote ... we can get the best people into office. It’s like a math test: You get a 90, but you strive to make a better grade.”

Brown said people are more likely to register if they have regular contact with politicians. “This is why voting is down because (the politicians) don’t come back,” Brown said. “They come to get elected, and then they go back to work. (People) don’t know them.”

Noren said most voter registration parties take place closer to presidential elections, but Thursday night’s was still worthwhile.

“If people (register) now, they get to vote for the sewer issues in November and the presidential primaries in February,” she said.

In the first hour of the party, Haus was the only person to register to vote. But that wasn’t discouraging to Noren.

“If you get one registered voter, it’s valuable,” she said. “Just because you don’t get a lot doesn’t mean it’s not successful. The business supporting it may want to do it again.”

Scott Cristal is secretary of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, which helped publicize the non-partisan event.

“The idea is that people are having fun and learning about different things going on around the community,” he said. “Those people have opportunities, they meet people like politicians and realize that they are real people and they can talk to them about their concerns. The idea is to bring it down to a level where people can talk to each other.”

He said the event also shows people that voting gives them the power to change the government. Brown said he believes the idea came to him like a vision while he was thinking about the Bible.

“Jesus worked to help people, and I always wondered what I could do to help people,” Brown said. “He wasn’t a politician, and he didn’t vote. I’m not a politician, but I can help people vote.”

Duane Dimmitt, who intends to run for the 25th district state representative next year, said the venue may help guide voters in the future. He said the event’s timing coincides with most local bar specials and the closing time of polls in February and November.

“Hopefully this brings a message to a crowd that says ‘register to vote at happy hour and go to vote during happy hour’,” he said.

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