As states' voter registration deadlines for the November election approach, conservative and liberal religious groups are pounding on doors and ringing every phone in their directory to reach potential supporters.
While there is nothing new about old-fashioned "doorbelling" itself, faith-based groups are out with more intensity and better organization this year than they have been in recent elections, scholars and activists say.
Also, the Help America Vote Act, enacted by Congress in 2002 in response to low voter turnouts, has made it easier to register through third-party registration drives.
The 2000 presidential race was so close and so many peoplenearly half the electoratedidn't vote. Conservative and liberal religious leaders have said that if they can get just a few more of their supporters registered and to the polls, it could provide the margin of victory in 2004.
Voter registration drives sponsored by faith-based groups are prohibited from directly endorsing candidates. Instead, they use issues to galvanize voters, and many publish "voter education" material, to let the electorate know where the candidates stand on these issues.
In addition, some groups emphasize the "Bible-based moral responsibility" of Christians to vote.
For dozens of conservative Christian groups, concerns about gay marriage, "activist judges" and the possibility that the next man elected president could make several Supreme Court appointments in the next four years, make this the most crucial election in a generation, according to several conservative leaders.
For the first time in its 179-year history the American Tract Society, an evangelical Christian nonprofit that publishes Bible-based material, added a voter registration kit to its ...1