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A man with a mission: to register voters

FRANKFORT — Max Thomas is on a mission — to register as many people to vote in November's presidential election as he can by Monday's deadline.

"It's a labor of love," Thomas said.

For the past six weeks, Thomas and 30 other volunteers have been going door to door in Frankfort and have set up tables at Pic Pac, Wal-Mart and Save-A-Lot. They also register voters at high school football games.

Although Thomas is backing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over Republican John McCain, he describes the voter registration drive in low-income areas and at Kentucky State University as non-partisan. He said he doesn't ask voters whether they are Republican or Democrat and accepts registration cards for either party.

"I have a sincere interest in getting everybody registered to vote — Republicans, Democrats and independents," Thomas told The State Journal in Frankfort. "Being a black African-American, the right to vote is ingrained in me. Everybody should use that right to vote."

Thomas, 53, a retired state worker, and his volunteers have signed up about 500 Kentucky State University students to vote.

"The students are really involved this year, and they are wanting to vote," he said. "They just didn't know how to get registered."

Secretary of State Trey Grayson said in a statement last week that so many people are registering to vote in Kentucky that county clerks are using additional staff or working longer hours to accommodate the increase.

Thomas, meanwhile, even took his table and forms to a family reunion in Shelbyville in August and registered 30 relatives.

"They were just so happy, they thought it was the best thing," he said.