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Voting registration marathon powers on

GO VOTE: Desmond Jaddoo (left) Bev Dodds, team leader for Birmingham Elections Office, and politics graduate Ashley Bertie

CAMPAIGNING TO make sure people are registered to vote is a marathon not a sprint and no-one knows this more than Birmingham’s own voting crusader Desmond Jaddoo.

Since a national voting registration campaign, organised by Operation Black Vote, was launched in Birmingham last November, political activist Jaddoo has vowed to get the city’s African and Caribbean communities registered and engaged in the voting process.

He joined forces with Birmingham City Council’s elections office to hold a registration clinic at the newly-opened Pannel Croft village for the over 55s in Newtown.

More than 100 residents took the opportunity to register following their move to the complex several months ago.

“These clinics are very user friendly as it means residents can register immediately,” said Jaddoo, founder of Birmingham Empowerment Forum and an independent candidate in Birmingham’s elected mayoral campaign in 2011.

“When people move, the onus is on them to re-register. It’s crucial that people don’t lose the right to vote.”

So far this year he has organised up to 20 voting clinics across the city, registering hundreds of voters.

Bev Dodds, team leader of Birmingham Elections Office, who was at Pannel Croft, said: “More than 100 people came through the door to vote and others sorted out postal voting which saved them having to apply.”

Councillor Muhammad Afzal, Labour councillor for Birmingham’s Aston ward was also on hand during the voting clinic to listen to residents’ concerns.

Jaddoo, who was helped by politics graduate Ashley Bertie, added: “I’m not telling anyone how to vote – I’m simply asking them to make sure they are in a position to vote. Too many times people turn up at polling stations only to find they are not registered. It takes less than five minutes to fill in a form.”

“The next General Election takes place in 2015 and the black community has a crucial role to play in influencing the outcome.”

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