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In Fla., Parties Push to Register Voters, Get Them to Polls

In the second segment in a series about Florida's continued status as a political battleground, Judy Woodruff examines efforts to register new voters in the Sunshine State and what both parties' plans are to get out the vote come November.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, the second of our reports from Florida on the presidential campaign. Judy Woodruff's subject tonight is voter turnout.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Every week for the past four months at the Miami-Dade County auditorium, there have been three ceremonies, one after the other, like this one last Friday morning.

    Emotions ran the gamut, from tears to cheers, as 1,200 immigrants from 73 countries pledged loyalty to their new home country.

    Within minutes, these brand-new U.S. citizens, more than half from Latin America, walked out into the bright South Florida sunlight to confront arguably the most important responsibility and privilege of citizenship: registering to vote.

  • VOLUNTEER:

    Would you like to register to vote, ma'am?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Greeting them were dozens of representatives of the McCain and Obama campaigns, urging them to register, and, critically, to declare a party affiliation.

    New citizens are among the main targets of both presidential campaigns in a race that has drawn even in Florida. Polls show a small advantage for John McCain has shrunk further in the past couple of weeks.

    And with the deadline for new voter sign-up looming October 6th, there's even more urgency to the competition.

    Did you choose a political party?

  • RONALDO GARCIA, Registered Republican:

    Yes.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Which one?

  • RONALDO GARCIA:

    Republican.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Why?

  • RONALDO GARCIA:

    Because I feel related, you know, I like it.

  • NIRANJAN VAIDYA, Registered Democrat:

    It's important that, you know, our citizens can make our voice heard. And it's there that, you know, in a democracy, in a country where there's a democracy, every voice counts. And this is a country where democracy matters.

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