Has it registered yet?

Local Republicans are enjoying a lead of 4,800 over their rival Democrats in the number of Jackson County registered voters, according to elections officials.

Information obtained from the Jackson County clerk's office also shows the Democrats are lagging behind their 2008 registration numbers.

However, this could turn around in the coming weeks, according to Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker, as the Oct. 16 deadline to register is less than a month away.

"We have been very busy these past few days," Walker said. "We registered 380 people to vote in just one day."

The county usually sees a higher turnout by Republicans in elections, and that could be the case again this year, Walker said.

"But, you have to remember that Jackson County went blue in 2008, so anything's possible," Walker said.

So far, the Democrats have tallied 39,759 registered voters as of Tuesday. This is well off the party's 2008 pace of 44,249 registered voters.

Meanwhile, Republicans have seen its registration number reach 44,573 so far this year. This is slightly off it's 2008 number of 46,696.

Jackson County Democrats chairwoman Jan Waitt is not surprised the numbers are down in 2012 because President Barack Obama's election team Organizing for America was very active early on in 2008.

The Obama team worked in the spring and summer of that year getting people registered to vote. Waitt said the organization registered approximately 9,000 Democrats in 2008.

"They are back in the area right now and will be registering people," Waitt said.

Waitt said local Democrat volunteers are working on phone drives and other ways to get people to the polls in November.

"We're trying to close that enthusiasm gap," she said.

Waitt said there doesn't seem to be an over-arching disappointment in Obama from local Democrats, but the challenge will be getting people who might have voted for the first time in 2008 to come back in 2012.

Robert Olsson, the Jackson County chairman of the Republican Party pro tem, said he has seen enthusiasm peaking in the days leading up to the first presidential debate next week.

"We have a constant parade of people coming in to pick up Romney signs," Olsson said. "It's upbeat around here."

Local Republicans are busy doing walkthroughs in neighborhoods that have a high number of Republican registered voters, Olsson said.

The goal is to give the gentle reminders to get their ballots in for the Nov. 6 election, he said.

Olsson said Republican volunteers are also looking to get voters who did not participate in the 2008 election to do so in 2012.

"We're going to be out there knocking on doors," Olsson said.

Walker said the number of people declining to register with a political party keeps growing.

So far this year, Jackson County has totalled 24,227 non-affiliated voters. This is an increase of 1,210 from 2008.

"That's a trend we've seen for the past five or six years," Walker said.

She added that the county is projected to eclipse 2008's number of registered voters. In the previous presidential election, the county saw 119,664 registered voters. Walker said the number this year could top 120,000.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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