By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE – The number of voters registered for the Nov. 5 election is up 8 percent compared to 2009, the last time the city elected a mayor, figures supplied by the city's Election Division show.
In all, 37,672 people – equal to about 71 percent of residents over 18 years old – were registered by last week's deadline. The number is especially high because a third of the city's 76,000 residents were born overseas, according to the U.S. Census, and so would not be eligible to vote unless they received citizenship.
Many of the 2,793 new voters who joined the rolls since 2009 joined this summer and fall, when the six candidates for mayor and the dozens of candidates for City Council and the two school committees were hustling to identify their supporters and get them registered by the Sept. 17 preliminary election.
That effort continued through last Wednesday, the deadline for registering for the Nov. 5 general election, when Mayor William Lantigua will face City Councilor Daniel Rivera, who finished first and second, respectively, in the preliminary election. Neither man could be reached yesterday, but both are likely sifting through the numbers to measure the success of their voter drives.
Direct comparisons between how the two men polled on Sept. 17 can be misleading because there were four other candidates on the ballot.
But in the 13 precincts where Lantigua won more than 50 percent of the vote, registration is up 7 percent compared to 2009, when he was last on the ballot, Election Division numbers show.
In the 11 precincts where Lantigua fell below 50 percent in the preliminary, registration is up 10.5 percent.
Among the city's six election districts -- each with four precincts -- the biggest jump occurred in District B, in the North Common neighborhood.
The district was Lantigua's best in the Sept. 17 preliminary election, when he carried it with 61 percent of the vote in the six-man contest. By last Wednesday, the district had 706 more voters than in 2009, up 12 percent.
District E in South Lawrence West, where Rivera polled best, has 411 new voters, up 6.4 percent. Lantigua received just 27 percent of the vote in that district last month.
The flux in the voter rolls varies widely across the city's 24 voting precincts. In the Arlington Neighborhood, District C, Precinct 2, picked up 572 new voters, a 52 percent increase since 2009.
Over the same four years, District D, Precinct 4, on Tower Hill, lost 198 voters, a drop of nearly 13 percent.
Rafael Tejeda, the Election Division's bilingual coordinator, said the redistricting two years ago – when several district lines were redrawn to account for the city's shifting population – accounts for much of the fluctuation in the enrollment numbers in the districts.