NEW YORK: Trailing the GOP by $15 million in the fundraising race, Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Terry McAuliffe last week unveiled an initiative meant to enhance one of his party's traditional advantages - its larger pool of registered voters."No one knows better than us that every vote counts - look at 2000 in Florida,
said Maria Cardona, DNC communications director. "This year, the whole House is up. There are 36 Senate and 34 gubernatorial races.
So the importance of these efforts is magnified."
The campaign kicked off on April 24 with a rally and sign-up drive at New York University, followed by a concert at Harlem's Apollo Theatre.
Comedian Chris Tucker and Actress Cicely Tyson emceed the event, which featured marquee performances - albeit of different sorts - by Michael Jackson, Tony Bennett, KD Lang, and former President Bill Clinton. Similar events were held in 11 other states.
The push is scheduled to continue through Election Day, with visits to "college campuses, senior centers - anywhere there's a center for civic duty,
said Cardona. She added that at some locations, the DNC will extend its reach by partnering with nonpartisan organizations. "Of course, we prefer that people register as Democrats. But the most important thing is that they participate in the process."
Whether the $2.5 million plan will help Democrats offset their rivals' bigger overall war chest remains to be seen.
"It's hard to predict how much something like this is going to boost turnout,
said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida. "Voter registration drives are a crucial first step, but people still have to be motivated to go to the polls."