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Obama push for Deeds continues

By Rosalind Helderman
Ever receive a letter from the president of the United States? About 330,000 Virginians are about to get one, as the Democratic Party of Virginia puts a letter in the snail mail from President Obama to voters identified as part of the "surge" who came out to the polls to elect Obama last year and are now seen as critical to closing the gap between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell.

The letterhead includes a nifty presidential symbol with the words, "A special message from President Barack Obama." In the letter, Obama writes: "To make real changes in this country, it will take more than just my presidency - it requires your continued vigilance in the cause of progress. To move this country forward, I need the support and partnership of good governors who are ready to help lay the foundations of change. And this November 3rd is your opportunity to help Virginia do just that."

Continue reading at Virginia Politics»

Posted at 1:58 PM ET on Oct 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (14)
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No New 'Czar' For Gulf Coast

From the press gaggle aboard Air Force One en route New Orleans, with White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton:

Q Why such a short trip to New Orleans today? A little less than four hours long.

MR. BURTON: Well, the President has been to New Orleans since Katrina; he's seen the damage. As President he's sent more Cabinet Secretaries and senior administration officials to the Gulf Coast region than almost any other place in the country. He's freed up billions of dollars in aid to the region to help with the recovery efforts. He's helped to cut red tape to put people back to work, get kids back into the schools, to get people back into their homes. And he's going to continue those efforts. And it's his hope that he's judged not just by the words that he says but by the actions that he's done and that he continues to do over the course of his administration.

He's -- today, specifically, though, he is looking forward to hearing directly from the people of New Orleans about their questions, concerns and thoughts about the recovery efforts and what they're seeing and what the administration can do.

Q Has he got anything new to announce, anything to offer them beyond his presence, or is it just a listening session?

MR. BURTON: The President is here to listen today.

Q Do you guys have any plans to announce, like, a Gulf Coast recovery czar to oversee the federal effort down in the Gulf Coast?

MR. BURTON: There's no such effort that I know of.

Q Is he going to --

Q Before you move on, do you mind if I just ask, are there any dignitaries he's going to be meeting with? Is the mayor going to be there, for example?

MR. BURTON: Some of the folks who will be there include Mayor Nagin, Senator Landrieu, Lieutenant Governor Landrieu, Speaker Pro Tem Karen Carter [Peterson]. Congressman Cao and the congressman from Louisiana 1 -- who's name escapes me for a moment -- [Melancon]. The governor will be there, Bobby Jindal. So you'll see a --

Q Jindal?

MR. BURTON: He'll be there when we land. And he'll also be at the town hall. And then Secretaries Donovan, Napolitano and Duncan will all be there as well.

Q And they all have separate events also, those -- the Secretaries?

MR. BURTON: They do have separate schedules that they're doing, but they'll all be linked up with what the President is doing, as well.

Posted at 1:57 PM ET on Oct 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (9)
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White House Announces Nov. Tribal Nations Conference

By Anne E. Kornblut
With much of the District shut down in honor of Columbus Day, the Obama administration on Monday gave a nod to Native Americans, announcing plans for a White House Tribal Nations Conference to be held on November 5.

"I look forward to hearing directly from the leaders in Indian Country about what my Administration can do to not only meet their needs, but help improve their lives and the lives of their peoples," Obama said in a statement. "This conference will serve as part of the ongoing and important consultation process that I value, and further strengthen the Nation-to-Nation relationship."

The outreach to the nation's 564 tribes comes on a federal holiday that is protested in parts of the country for celebrating the explorer Christopher Columbus, whose use of violence toward Native Americans has led the date to be renamed in some places.

Posted at 3:40 PM ET on Oct 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (14)
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RNC Survey in Virginia Suggests Draft, Welfare Expansion on 'Obama Agenda'

The Republican National Committee has sent some Virginia voters a questionnaire suggesting that the president and Congressional Democrats want to expand welfare benefits and reinstitute the military draft -- while raising the budget deficit well beyond what is projected by nonpartisan experts.

Posted on October 3, 2009 at 08:00 AM ET | Comments (62)

 

Obama to Visit Gulf Coast in October

By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama will make his first visit as president to the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast sometime in the middle of October, the White House announced Tuesday.

The trip will allow him to view first-hand the area's continuing recovery from Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the area four years ago, killing more than 1,600 people and driving another 1.5 million from their homes.

The president's visit to the area will come after a slew of Cabinet members have visited the region, where they have heard complaints about slow recovery efforts and bureaucratic complexities that have slowed the flow of billions of dollars in federal assistance.

"The administration is deeply committed to serving the needs of Gulf Coast residents by cutting through the bureaucratic red tape that has delayed assistance and improving coordination among federal agencies and with state and local partners," the White House said in a statement. "As a result, more than $1 billion in public assistance projects that had been stuck for years have been obligated since the start of the administration, including fire and police stations, health clinics, libraries, and university buildings."

In announcing the president's impending trip, the White House also said that the president signed an executive order extending the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding for six months. The office was first established November 1, 2005.

Posted at 6:03 PM ET on Sep 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (11)
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Paterson Greets Obama in New York

In the wake of weekend reports that the White House expressed concern over New York Gov. David Paterson's political standing in advance of the 2010 election contest for the gubernatorial seat, interest was running high Monday morning in how the president and the governor would interact -- if at all -- at Obama's speech on the economy in Troy, New York.

Michael D. Shear is the pool reporter for the White House press today and sends along the below pool report describing an apparently cordial interaction upon Obama's arrival in Albany, New York:

Gov. Paterson was standing at the bottom of the stairs to greet President Obama, the first of a handful of people standing in the receiving line.

When Obama came down, the two had a brief exchange that looked cordial. The shook hands, Obama did a kind of half-embrace with his back to the press corps, and said something to Paterson, who listened for a moment and then said something back. (Your pooler, being kept far away and next to a whining jet engine, could not hear a thing.)

Obama then moved on to greet others, but stepped next to Paterson to say a few things to the group of five or six people assembled. There were a couple more pats on the back -- Paterson on Obama and Obama on Paterson -- and then it was over. Obama got into his limo. Paterson went to another vehicle. Plenty of New York media were on hand to visually catch the exchange.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was also asked questions about Paterson at a gaggle aboard Air Force One en route to New York. Shear reports his replies:

On Paterson: "Well, look, I think everybody understands the tough job that every elected official has right now in addressing many of the problems that we have. I think people are aware of the tough situation that the governor of NY is in. I wouldn't add a lot to what you've
read except this is a decision that he's going to make."

To another question about whether that means the president did or did not direct that people tell him to get out of the race: "The president understands the tough job that everyone has and the pressure that they are under."

On whether the President is more involved that predecessors in state and local politics: "I would somewhat not subscribe to the notion that this is new. ...To quote Paul Begala, not being involved in politics is like taking the math out of physics."

Any risks for Obama to dabbling in that level of politics: "Hazards of the job."

Posted at 11:52 AM ET on Sep 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2)
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Wilder: Obama Made a Pitch for Deeds

By Rosalind Helderman
Former governor L. Douglas Wilder says he received a call directly from President Obama about three weeks ago to discuss a variety of issues, but, top among them, was the Virginia governor's race.

Wilder said the call was confidential and he would not reveal his exact back and forth with the president, whom Wilder strongly supported last year. But, he said, Obama made clear that he would like the former Democratic governor to get off the fence and endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds.

"I'll just say he called and made his position known and made it clear, he's a Democrat, Mr. Deeds is a Democrat and obviously, the president would like to see a Democratic victory," Wilder said.

Wilder said the president's call was just one of a number of contacts he has had with the White House in recent weeks on the issue.

Wilder confirmed that he will be making a statement about his endorsement later this week, as first reported Sunday by the Washington Times. He stressed the statement would be *about* his endorsement, not necessarily an endorsement. And he said he will be speaking to Deeds directly for the first time this year either today or tomorrow.


Continue reading at Virginia Politics»

Posted at 11:33 AM ET on Sep 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2)
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Obama Signs Major Land Conservation Law

President Obama signed a massive lands package into law today, protecting more than two million acres as wilderness and creating a new national system to conserve land held by the Bureau of Land Management.

Posted on March 30, 2009 at 05:44 PM ET | Comments (8)

Coming This Spring: Health Care Forums in the States

By Ceci Connolly Hoping to keep up public pressure for a sweeping health care overhaul...

Posted on March 6, 2009 at 12:21 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's First Stop on Economic Message Tour: Indiana

By Anne E. Kornblut President Obama will travel next Monday to Elkhart, Ind., before heading...

Posted on February 6, 2009 at 12:43 PM ET | Comments (15)

 

TN: Long Lines, But No Big Hang-ups

By Darryl Fears
Tennessee expects to break a record with nearly 3 million people voting in a presidential election. Thank goodness more than half of them voted early, said Brook Thompson, state coordinator of elections. "If we had 1.5 million more voters showing up today, it would have been awfully difficult to manage," he said.

For the first time, nearly the entire state -- 93 of 95 counties -- used electronic voting machines -- the same machines that have been criticized in past elections for not creating a paper trail to verify votes.

In 2004, when a record 2.4 million people voted, voters cast ballots past midnight at a polling station in East Nashville, the Nashville Tennessean reported.

About 250 miles south in the Atlanta area, where turnout was heavy and steady throughout the day, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, elections officials braced for a huge wave of after work hours voters. "It's going to be all feet and hands on deck and hold on for the ride," said John Austin, a Clayton County precinct manager.

At some polling stations, voters stood in line for three hours, and many across the state have called to report problems. Two hours before polls closed, a group called the Election Protection Coalition reported that it received 570 complaints, mostly concerning voter registration discrepancies, the newspaper reported.

State officials questioned the report, saying one organization was mistaken in reporting a power outage at a Fulton County precinct. "These groups haven't contacted our office to let us know about these complaints, said Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for the Secretary of State.

Posted at 7:46 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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OR: Turnout Likely to Surpass Nixon-Kennedy

By Theresa Vargas
Oregon voter turnout was at 72 percent and climbing, with a surge of last-minute ballots expected to set a new record, according to the Associated Press.

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury told the AP that he is sticking with his prediction that turnout will eclipse the record of 86.5 percent from 1960 and the Nixon-Kennedy presidential race.

Posted at 7:32 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NJ: Official Urges Patience

By Rob Stein
With polls closing soon, New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Wells issued a statement acknowledging long lines and waits at many polling stations, and urged voters to be patient. Anyone in line by 8 p.m. will be able to vote, Wells reminded voters.

"New Jersey is experiencing what could very likely be record voter turnout statewide. This is expected to continue until the close of polls," Wells said. "Election officials are working diligently to process the heavy volume as carefully and expeditiously as possible."

Posted at 7:28 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)
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TX: Statewide Races Draw Interest

By David Brown
Some of the more closely watched races in this solidly red state are three being waged by prominent black Republicans.

The chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace Jefferson, and one of the associate justices, Dale Wainwright -- both African Americans -- are running for reelection. Also running for another term is Michael Williams, the black chairman of the Railroad Commission, a state agency that issues oil and gas drilling permits, sets rates for natural gas in some parts of the state and has other energy-related regulatory functions.

The supreme court has nine members, all currently Republican. Various observers, including several newspaper editorial pages, have complained this is far too lopsided.

Three of the jurists are up for election this year. The state Democratic party invested nearly $1 million to buy television spots for the three Democrats running for the bench.

"We have a really good opportunity," Hector Nieto, the party spokesman said today.

Posted at 7:19 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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PA: Voting Unlikely to Need Extension

By Pamela Constable
With less than 90 minutes to go before the polls were scheduled to close at 8 p.m. in Pennsylvania, state election officials predicted a near-record voter turnout of 80 percent or more. They said lines at the polls had been heavy all day, but that local and county officials had handled the crush smoothly and that voters had been exceptionally patient.

"The voters are still very excited despite the long waits. We really appreciate their patience and cooperation," said Rebecca Halton, the deputy spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Secretary of State's office.

Halton said she did not know whether there would be either the logistical need or the legal possibility of extending the voting time, which would require a formal petition to the state Court of Common Pleas. She also said voters should be reassured they will not be turned away as long as they are in line by 8 p.m.

There are more than 8.75 million registered voters in Pennsylvania. The state has not seen a turnout of 80 per cent in the past two decades. Other than that extraordinary possibility, Halton said, "there is nothing terribly exciting to report."

Posted at 7:11 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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AZ: One Alleged Scuffle, But No Major Problems

By Ann Scott Tyson
Voter turnout in Arizona has been "extraordinary," with waits of as long as three hours, according to Emily DeRose, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Arizona.

Local officials said there have been no major voting irregularities reported, but there was a scuffle today over a sign at one polling place.

A 78-year old woman filed a police complaint after struggling with a man who ripped down a large Democratic Party sign near a polling place in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix. The sign criticized incumbent Republican state senator, John Huppenthal, for voting against funding for a local high school.

A Chandler police employee said a team of officers had taken the report and
photographed the scene.

Ruth Levin, a Democratic committee person who supports the senator's opponent, said she was sitting next to the sign, which she said was legally placed outside the 75-foot polling place perimeter, when a car pulled up. A man got out, took out a knife, and began cutting the plastic tape that tied the sign to two metal stakes. "That's wrong. Don't take it," Levin said, grabbing hold of one end of the sign. "I hung on for dear life," she recalled in a phone interview. "He wrenched it away from me and put it in the trunk of his car." Levin said she warned the man she would report his license plate, and grabbed the passenger door of the car, which swung open as the man started to drive away. On the front seat were several of Huppenthal's business cards. Levin later identified the man as Huppenthal. Huppenthal did not return a call seeking his comment.

"It's something out of a really bad sitcom," said DeRose. Police are trying to contact Huppenthal, she said.

Posted at 6:55 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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MN: On Track to Shatter Records

By Joby Warrick
By the time the last ballots are cast, Minnesotans will likely have shattered an all-time voting record for the state -- and possibly even two records.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said today that he expects the total number of votes cast to exceed 3 million. The number of registered voters in the state is 3.7 million. Previously, the highest turn-out in a Minnesota election was 2.8 million voters, in 2004.

State officials say the record for the highest percentage turnout could also be threatened. The previous high mark was 83 percent, in 1956, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was running for a second term. Ritchie said state officials have been working hard to produce a voter turnout of at least 80 percent this year.

"We have worked hard to reach this goal and to keep Minnesota number one in the nation in voter turnout," he said.

Posted at 6:46 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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TX: Turnout Predicted Up From '04

By David Brown
Voter turnout in Texas was described as "steady, manageable, and with no unusually long lines" by a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office. Part of the reason for no crowds may be the massive early voting recorded in the Lone Star state.

Out of 8.4 million registered voters in the state's 15 most-populous counties, 3.5 million voted early, an option in Texas since 1988. That is substantially more than the 2.5 million voting early in those counties four years ago.

Texas's secretary of state, Hope Andrade, predicted a turnout of 68 percent, up from 56 percent in 2004. The state today has 13.5 million registered voters -- 800,000 more than it had last March for the primaries.

Posted at 6:40 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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HI: Ballot of Obama's Grandmother Will Be Counted

By Theresa Vargas
Barack Obama's grandmother may not be around to see the election's results, but her vote will count, the Honolulu Advertiser reports.

Madelyn Payne Dunham's absentee mail ballot was processed by the Honolulu clerk's office on Oct. 27 and will be counted today along with more than 100,000 other absentee ballots statewide, the paper quoted the state's chief elections officer Kevin Cronin as saying.

Dunham, who was 86, passed away yesterday sometime after 3 a.m. Honolulu time.

Posted at 6:35 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)
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OK: Confusion Among Eagles and Roosters

By David Brown
Several people complained of allegedly partisan advice by a poll worker in Pottawatomie County this morning, and the head of the local election board asked him to change the way he was explaining how people could vote a straight party ticket.

On the Oklahoma ballots, an eagle denotes Republican candidates and a rooster Democratic ones. To vote a party-line ticket, a person has to click one of the avian icons in four different places. Several witnesses said a poll worker in the small town of Pink told several voters to "Look under the eagle" -- or something close to that -- when asked how they could vote a party line. This was interpreted as an instruction to vote Republican.

"He was telling them to look under the eagle to find the straight-party areas," said Diana Knight, secretary of the county election board. "He wasn't telling them to vote for the Republicans. He probably shouldn't have said it that way."

Complaints were registered with the state election board and also with the Oklahoma Indian Bar Association, which posted an item about it on its Web site. Pottawatomie County is 11 percent American Indian. Knight said she spoke with the poll worker four times during the day to be certain his advice was clearer.

Posted at 6:27 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NE: 'We're a Small State, But We Vote'

By Carol D. Leonnig
Nebraska's Secretary of State John Gale had predicted 72 percent voter turnout statewide last week, but said in an interview today he can envision that number rising to 75 percent based on election-worker reports of dramatic turnout at polls today. He said the rise could also be due to very heavy voter registration and turnout operations by the Obama campaign in the state's second congressional district that includes Omaha.
"We're a small state, but we vote," Gale said. "It's a very exciting time. (In Gale's precinct), they had more people voting by 9 a.m. than ever before in history."

Posted at 6:22 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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FL: An 'Eerily Quiet' Record Day

By David A. Fahrenthold
Florida seems likely to break its record for voter turnout, set when 83 percent of the electorate voted during the 1992 presidential election, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning said this afternoon. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Browning said the election was proceeding smoothly, despite scattered problems with jammed scanners in Tallahassee and misprinted ballots in Hollywood, Fla.

"I almost hate to say this, but it's been eerily quiet and that's a good thing," Browning said, according to the Democrat.

He said that "significant" unofficial results should be available between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. tonight.

Posted at 6:14 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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NC: Most Voters Cast Ballots Before Noon

By Pamela Constable
After a morning of unusually long lines and waits at many polling places, election officials in North Carolina reported that by mid-afternoon, voters were breezing in and out of the booths within five minutes in Charlotte and the surrounding region. In one precinct, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, officials said two thirds of 1,501 registered voters had cast a ballot by noon.

Officials said the smooth and increasingly quick voting process was partly due to the state's decision to allow early voting, a policy that was followed in 31 states including Virginia. According to the Charlotte Observer, more than 2.5 million North Carolina voters cast ballots before today. There has been heightened interest in the elections because North Carolina will choose a new governor and because the incumbent senator, Republican Elizabeth Dole, is facing a stiff challenge from Democrat Kay Hagan.

According to the newspaper, 52 percent of the early voters in North Carolina were registered Democrats, and 26 per cent were black voters, who as a group heavily favor Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Obama has blanketed the tightly contested state with volunteers and advertisements. However, experts said they expected Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to garner more of the votes cast in the state today.

Posted at 6:08 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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SD: Turnout Boosted by Time Off

By Carol D. Leonnig
Some South Dakota officials expects record turnout for this election -- 72 to 75 percent of all registered voters -- which would make it the highest voter participation in four decades. It's due to the historic interest in the McCain-Obama contest, but it also could be helped by a worker-friendly state law. For those who are working long shifts today, state law requires their boss to give them up to 2 hours off to vote -- if you don't have 2 "non-work" hours while the polls are open.

Posted at 6:04 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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IA: GOP Challenges Some Student Ballots

By Joby Warrick
Republicans in southeastern Iowa are asking a local election board to reject the ballots of 50 college students because they didn't fill out the paperwork properly.

The challenge is being mounted against students at Grinnell College, a private liberal-arts school east of Des Moines, who were attempting to vote by absentee ballot. Local Republican officials flagged the ballots as invalid because the students listed the college's general mailing address as their residence. GOP leaders say the students should have used their individual campus addresses instead.

Students and some college officials are upset over the challenge, and some have accused the GOP of trying to deny them their right to vote. They say the same procedure was used in filling out absentee ballots in the past, and no one complained.

A hearing has been set for Thursday to decide the matter.

Posted at 5:58 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)
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CO: Few Bottlenecks Thanks to Early Voting

By Marc Kaufman
After a morning rush to vote that led to some long lines, election officials report that Denver residents are generally finding it's getting much easier to cast their ballots. Under clear skies in the mid 60s, Coloradoans are reaping the benefits of large-scale early voting and other innovations like allowing motorists to vote from their cars at Election Division centers.

There were few instances of machine or other voting troubles, although The Denver Post reported that some Spanish-speaking voters were having difficulties at some polling places in Weld County.

Voters may well have experienced many more problems if the vote was tomorrow: The weather forecast calls for rain and then snow in the mountains and coming into Denver.

Posted at 5:51 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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In Pa., Man's Best Voter Fraud?

By Pamela Constable
According to a column posted in today's Philadelphia Daily News, one Bridget Killer of Wynnefield, Pa., received a formal notice from election officials advising her "as a first-time voter" how to cast a ballot today. Turns out that Bridget Killer is unlikely to vote for any candidate, even via paw prints. She is a dog, or rather, she was once two dogs: a miniature poodle named Bridget and a German Shepherd-Great Dane mix named Killer, who previously belonged to human voter Rich Gibson of Wynnefield, Pa. To make matters more mysterious, both pooches passed away some time ago.

Gibson, a semi-retired accountant, was so upset about the glitch that he called the Daily News to complain after he could not reach election officials. "I don't want someone to accuse me of Chicago-style voting after the election," he told columnist Ronnie Polaneczky.

Posted at 5:41 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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FL: Some Voters See Text Message Tricks

By David A. Fahrenthold
Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, said that voters in his state had received an anonymous text message instructing pro-Obama voters to stay away from polls today. "Due to long lines, all Obama voters are asked to vote on Wednesday. Thank you for your cooperation." Jotkoff said the message read. He said that Florida Democrats doubted that many voters had been fooled.

Posted at 5:35 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)
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ND: Celebrity Sighting at the Polls

By Carol D. Leonnig
Some North Dakota voters got to see actress Kirsten Dunst up close in the election lines today as part of a documentary she and filmmaker Jacob Soboroff are producing on American voting, the Associated Press reported.

The pair were drawn to North Dakota, the only state without voter registration, to check out how that unique process affects voter turnout. The state expected roughly a record-setting 69 percent of eligible voters -- those 18 and older -- to make a choice in this election.

"It's different than any other state in the United States, and what we're looking at is best and worst [voting] practices," Soboroff said Monday. "I don't know if it's a best practice or ... a worst practice, and that's why we're here."

Dunst, who has starred in three "Spider-Man" movies, and Soboroff hope their documentary will explain why Americans are less likely to vote than citizens of other countries.

"What we're looking to do is give a nonpartisan look around the United States, and around the world, at how people are affected by voting systems, and what that means to the voters," Soboroff said.

The pair interviewed Secretary of State Al Jaeger, the top supervisor of elections, on Monday and are interviewing North Dakota voters today.

Posted at 5:32 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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WA: Not Just Free Coffee and Donuts

By Theresa Vargas
A store that is offering a free sex toy to anyone who casts a ballot has already been inundated by hundreds of voters, the Seattle Times reports. Babeland, which has stores in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, is letting voters choose between the Maverick or the Silver Bullet.

"There's been so much anxiety lately -- about the economy, about the election -- we wanted to do something fun to lift people's moods a little bit," the newspaper quoted the stores public relations manager, Pamela Doan, as saying. "And the names of the two toys gave us an opportunity to do a creative play on words."

Posted at 5:26 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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MS: Police Say Voters Not Pulled From Line

By David A. Fahrenthold
In Mississippi, an election-watchdog group called Protect the Vote received about five reports that police in the city of Meridian were pulling people out of line to vote and arresting them on outstanding warrants, according to Derrick Johnson, the president of the state NAACP. Johnson, whose group is part of the coalition, said they had contacted police and asked them to stop.

But Tommy Miller, the assistant chief of police in the city of 38,000, said the reports were false. Miller said one officer had ticketed cars parked illegally near a school that was being used as a polling place. But Miller said the officer was then sent back to cancel the tickets, since police knew that parking was tight near the polls.

"We certainly are not pulling folks out of line," Miller said. "We have no idea where all this got started."

Posted at 5:24 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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OK: Dems Hope to Beat Polls, If Not GOP

By David Brown
Oklahoma, which hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson, was all but written off by the Obama campaign this season. But Democratic Party officials there say they'll beat the polls, even if they don't beat the Republicans.

Polls for much of the fall have Obama getting about 32 percent of the Oklahoma vote, possibly a little more. But that doesn't feel right to Ivan Holmes, the 70-year-old Democratic party chairman.

"I haven't seen anything like this since John Kennedy ran for president," he said. "Young people are just crazy all over the state. I just can't believe that he's going to get what the polls show."

The party registered 25,000 new young voters as Democrats in the last three months. There was such enthusiasm that the state paid for the printing of 55,000 yard signs, where were given away almost instantly. Holmes is predicting that Obama will get 40 to 45 percent of the vote, which would almost count as victory in his eyes.

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MT: High Interest and Lots of Early Voting

By Marc Kaufman
Bowen Greenwood, spokesman for Secretary of State Brad Johnson, predicted that Montana voter turnout would top 70 percent.

"This is going to be a great election," he said, "the interest level is really high." The total number of registered voters, however, is 30,000 fewer than in the 2000 general election.

Polls have shown Sens. Obama and McCain roughly tied in a state that traditionally votes Republican in presidential elections.

More than one of four Montana voters has registered to vote early, and by Sunday night, 175,054 early votes had been already cast, out of a total of 202,563 Montanans who requested them, Greenwood said.


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KY: Laura Bush Makes a Campaign Cameo

By Darryl Fears
In what is expected to be her last campaign stop before her husband leaves office, First Lady Laura Bush stumped on behalf of Robert Guthrie, a Republican running for a congressional seat, in Shepherdsville, Ky.

In her 11-minute speech, Bush told the crowd that Guthrie had created 500 jobs, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. She praised other Republicans running for office, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is up for reelection. Before the speech ended, she mentioned GOP presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin.

McCain, said Bush, is "a real American," and Palin, she said, is "a true reformer." Bush said she was proud that McCain chose a woman as his vice presidential nominee.

Guthrie's opponent, David Boswell, seized on the First Lady's speech to criticize the Republican, saying her appearance was evidence that his opponent was "tied to the hip of George Bush and Dick Cheney."

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NE: Voters Excited, But Not United

By Carol D. Leonnig
At polling places in Omaha, the Omaha World Herald reported, excitement about voting overcame the frustration with long lines.

"You almost want to scream and shout, but you've just got to maintain," said Annette Evans, a 41-year-old first-time voter who told the paper that she stood in line for 45 minutes to vote at Evans Tower in north Omaha.

Her fiancé, 34-year-old Kenneth Holloway, was equally enthusiastic over the opportunity to vote for Barack Obama.

"It's just a great moment in history," said Holloway, who, like Evans, is African American. "Many people thought that they would never see this in their lifetime."

Russell Mayo gave a one-word answer when asked why he was excited to vote today: "Palin."

The GOP vice presidential nominee "is going to rewrite what we call 'conservative'," Mayo said after voting at St. Bernard Catholic Church. "I was just going to vote for McCain against Obama and Biden, but then Palin pops up. This is the first time I've actually voted for something instead of against."

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Heavy Turnout, Few Glitches in the South

By David Farenthold
In states across the South, elections officials reported long lines in places that weren't used to them: three hours in Lexington, Ky., an hour-and-a-half in the Nashville suburbs and in small-town Madison, Miss. This followed some astonishingly busy early-voting periods: in Tennessee, about 1.55 million people voted early, which is nearly 40 percent of all registered voters.

"I'm expecting that we voted more early than we'll vote on election day," said Brook Thompson, the state's elections coordinator.

But these states reported few major problems with voting machines: the biggest in the region seemed to be in Kenton County, Ky., near the Ohio border, where some machines didn't seem to process straight-ticket votes. The machines were taken offline after voters complained, officials said.

In Alabama, state Democratic chairman Joe Turnham said his party had called law-enforcement agencies in at least one spot to request that they move police vehicles parked near polling stations. Turnham said he worried that these vehicles could be intimidating to some voters, or frighten elderly voters who might take them as a sign of trouble inside.

"We've had to call some sheriff's offices and ask 'em to, you know, move along if they didn't have a reason to be there," Turnham said. He said the departments complied.

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CO: McCain Says He Feels Momentum

By Marc Kaufman
Still campaigning this afternoon in Grand Junction, Colo., John McCain told an Election Day rally that "America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here."

Speaking to several thousand people at the airport hangar, he said he "felt the momentum" in a state where he has trailed in the polls. "I feel it, you feel it, and we're going to win the election," he said.

McCain was headed later to New Mexico before returning to Arizona to watch election returns. He's traveling with his wife Cindy, his 96-year-old mother Roberta, and friend and supporter Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.)

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IN: Republican Poll Workers Removed for Improper Vote Challenges

By Aaron C. Davis
Two Republican elections workers have been removed from an Indianapolis area-polling site for improperly challenging voters on the basis of their party affiliation.

Voters in the battleground state can be challenged on the validity of their address, age or if they lack an ID, but not based on their party affiliation. The two poll workers -- a Republican vote challenger and a clerk -- forced at least three voters to file provisional ballots, said Angie Nussmeyer, spokeswoman for the Marion County Election Board.

The county's bipartisan elections board voted unanimously to remove the two. The Marion County Republican Party reacted with a statement this afternoon saying it was unaware of the improper challenges and had not instructed party workers to do so. "We wish to see all qualified voters vote and find it reprehensible to ever deter a proper voter from voting," read the statement.

Marion County, Ind., went for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 by a margin of 50.6 percent to 48.7 percent for President Bush. Kerry got 6,177 more votes than Bush.

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MO: Voters Warned on Text Messages

By Joby Warrick
Election officials in Missouri are warning voters to watch out for misleading text messages that are apparently designed to trick supporters of Democrat Barack Obama.

The warning followed complaints by several voters who received electronic messages advising them to delay voting until Wednesday. One such message, which was formatted to appear similar to a news alert from CNN, said Obama supporters should "wait and vote tomorrow" because of long lines on Tuesday at many polling stations.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan released an image of one of the fraudulent texts, accompanied by a statement blasting those behind the attempt to deceive.

"I have no tolerance for anyone intentionally causing confusion on Election Day. Every eligible Missourian should be able to cast their ballot today," Carnahan said in the statement.

Posted at 4:51 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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AZ: High Turnout in McCain's Home State

By Ann Scott Tyson
Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain cast his vote in Phoenix at about 9 am this morning after fellow voters greeted him with cheers, according to party officials and local news reports. McCain then traveled to Colorado but will return to his home state this evening to watch the election returns at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Turnout in Arizona was expected to be as high as 85 percent, boosted partly by a new permanent early voting system.

Long lines formed at polling places early in the morning, but voting proceeded with no major irregularities, the officials said. At one polling place in Phoenix, officials tried to throw out some people campaigning nearby, but they were allowed to resume once it was determined they were outside the 75-foot perimeter surrounding the site, a Republican party official said.

Posted at 4:46 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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Chicago Immigrants Rally Around Obama

By Kari Lydersen
Lines formed for the first time local residents could remember at polling places in neighborhoods on Chicago's southwest side with large immigrant populations. Even illegal immigrants unable to vote were wearing Obama buttons and voicing support for the candidate who they think could rescue the economy, provide healthcare for low wage workers and "give us papers," in one woman's words.

Many immigrants said that family back in Mexico are anxiously waiting for election results, hoping that an Obama victory might reverse the economic downturn that has severe effects on remittances to Mexico and the Mexican economy.

"It's very important to Mexicans that Obama wins," said Benjamin Anaya, a former music professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who is assisting Mexican journalists in Chicago covering the election. "People think he will stabilize everything, the economy, the immigration system. People are excited but scared because they know the Republicans are capable of a lot of fraud."

Many see the Latino turnout and excitement as reminiscent of the 1983 mayoral race in Chicago, when Harold Washington became the city's first black mayor thanks in part to significant Latino support.

"You definitely see parallels and you also wouldn't see one without the other," said Rudy Lozano Jr., 32, a precinct organizer for the Independent Political Organization (IPO) which formed to bring together blacks and Latinos during Washington's campaign. He is also the son of Rudy Lozano, a key ally of Washington's who was murdered in 1983.
"Without the election of Harold Washington we wouldn't have Barack Obama as a candidate," he said, saying Washington's campaign laid the groundwork to "bring out people who wouldn't normally be engaged in the electoral arena. It's giving all these anti-war groups, reproductive rights groups, social justice movements a venue to work through."

But not everyone was engaged. One older man in a sombrero selling churros outside a polling place was glad for a little extra business, but didn't know anything about the race and was more concerned with his chronic neck and stomach pain than the results.

Jose Guerrero, 70, a retired park district worker and artist, said he only voted for Obama to please his friends and wife. "The only way they are different is Obama looks better on T.V.," he said. "Even if Obama wins the jobs will still be gone, the immigration system will still be broken, the police will still be coming down on us."

Posted at 4:31 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)
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CA: Poll Worker Passes Out, Votes Anyway

By Theresa Vargas
Poll worker Herdon Shelnut , 64, was handing out ballots at the Compton Airport polling place this morning when he passed out, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The fire department responded, but before they could take him away, Shelnut announced he hadn't yet voted, the newspaper wrote. So that he wouldn't miss the historic election, his colleagues wheeled his gurney close to a voting machine.

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KS: Voting Has a Rock Show Vibe

By Carol D. Leonnig
In Kansas City at 68th and Holmes Streets, the Kansas City Star reports, the mood was high and voters were marveling at their own turnout.

One person in line remarked, "Who would have thought that Election Day would be like going to a rock concert? Yeah, we had to stand in line a long time, but it was worth the wait."

There were many people with cellphone cameras, taking pictures of each other. There were several people with other cameras, too. Election workers came by periodically with large tubs of assorted candy, to keep everyone's strength up.

Posted at 4:20 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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S.C.: An Election Day Birthday?

By Pamela Constable
In the mid- and southern Atlantic regions, voters are showing exceptional determination to cast their votes, according to election officials and news reports. Amid those contributing to record early morning turnouts in several states were Ian Comer, a 22-year-old army private, who drove 18 hours straight from Ft. Benning, Ga., to cast his ballot in Princeton, W.Va., then turned around and drove back to his base.

In Hilton Head Island, S.C., a pregnant woman began going into labor as she waited to vote early today. According to an assistant town clerk, the unnamed woman's contractions were coming three minutes apart when she was escorted to the head of the line, and she was rushed to a hospital emergency room as soon as she finished voting.

"She was excited about the baby, and she was excited about voting too," the Charlotte Observer quoted the clerk as saying.

Posted at 4:09 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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WI: Balmy Skies in the Badger State

By Joby Warrick
Voters in Milwaukee had to contend with the same long lines as everyone else, but the real conversation-starter was the weather. An unusual warm spell had some people going to polling stations in shorts and even flip-flops, a sight rarely seen in Wisconsin on election day. Temperatures climbed well into the 70s under sunny skies by midday, more than 20 degrees higher than normal for early November.

The same weather pattern was responsible for unusually balmy conditions for voters throughout the Midwest, from Detroit and Minneapolis to Des Moines and St. Louis. Some voters said the favorable weather made the crowds friendlier and the long waits more bearable.

"Waited in line, but why complain?" one Milwaukee voter wrote in an on-line forum at the Journal-Sentinel newspaper's website. "I couldn't ask for a better election day!"

Posted at 4:02 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NM: Early Voting a Popular Choice

By Ann Scott Tyson
Voting in the battleground state of New Mexico was going smoothly, with steady to light turnout, after large portions of the state's urban population voted early or cast absentee ballots, political analysts and party officials said. "We haven't had any complaints," said Conchita Cruz, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

Overall, the number of early voters rose from 236,000 in 2004 to 344,000 this year. Registration also grew by nearly 90,000 compared with 2004. Turnout is expected to reach from 70 to 75 percent.

In Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque is located, about half of all registered voters cast their ballots before election day, according to Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc.

Democrats comprised a higher percentage of early and absentee voters in New Mexico this year, compared to past elections, when such voting has been dominated by Republicans, according to Sanderoff. So if the results from those votes -- about 43 percent of turnout statewide -- are released as soon as the polls close tonight at 7 pm, it could place the Democrats ahead initially. But those gains could shrink as votes are counted from today's balloting, Sanderoff said.

Posted at 3:53 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NJ: Paper Ballots for Last-Minute Registrants

By Rob Stein
A small number of voters in New Jersey are having to vote using paper ballots instead of using voting machines because they registered so close to the deadline, election officials said.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 voters in seven counties -- Warren, Atlantic, Bergen, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem and Morris -- are having to vote using the paper "provisional" ballots because the voter registration log books in those counties were printed before the late-minute registrations came in, said state division of elections spokeswoman Susan Evans. All the votes will be counted, however they won't be added to the final tally until a day later, she said.

No other significant voting problems were being reported in the state despite a heavy turnout, she said.

Posted at 3:45 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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CT: Turnout North of 90 Percent

By Spencer Hsu
Heavy voting was reported throughout blue states in the Northeast, with Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz predicting that more than 90 percent of registered voters in the Constitution State would turn out. By comparison, 79 percent voted in 2004.

The state's all-time high was 93 percent turnout in 1960, when John F. Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon.

Posted at 3:40 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)
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RI: Flawed Ballot, Suspicious Powder

By Spencer Hsu
State officials predicted near-record turnout, although a polling place in East Providence was closed after a suspicious white powder was found.

Grove Avenue Elementary School was closed after a poll worker found a white powder on the floor, touched it and developed a rash around 11:30 a.m., the Providence Journal reported.

The worker was taken to a hospital, nine others were quarantined and a hazardous materials team is on the scene. Officials hope to reopen the polling site later.

In Smithfield, replacement ballots were delivered to 10 polling sites after election officials realized that the initial version included the name of a town council candidate who had dropped out of the race.

Flawed ballots will be manually counted, but not before tomorrow, officials said

Posted at 3:34 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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OH: Dems Outnumber GOP in Key County

By Joby Warrick
In Ohio, early and absentee balloting ended after midnight today, just hours before the polls opened, and there were positive signs for Democrats in at least one key county.

Officials in Franklin County, which includes Columbus, said that Democrats cast more than twice as many ballots as Republicans -- 87,829 Democratic votes compared to 40,008 by registered members of the GOP. The county Board of Elections also received more than 90,000 early ballots from independents, said board spokesman Ben Piscitelli. Early voting is expected to account for about a third of the total votes cast.

Franklin County is Ohio's second largest county and has increasingly trended Democratic in recent years. The county favored Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004, a year in which President Bush narrowly won the state's electoral votes.

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Record Turnout in Plains States

By Carol D. Leonnig
In the rural and Republican-leaning Plains states, election officials who had already expected voter turnout to break records were scurrying today to adjust those predictions upward.

In Kansas, election officials had predicted on Friday they would see an unprecedented 78 percent of registered voters turning out for the election based on heavy early voting patterns. But this afternoon, officials in the Jayhawk state were upping that estimate to 80 percent.

In North Dakota, which is leaning toward John McCain but is considered a battleground state because of McCain's criticism of ethanol subsidies, state election officials are expecting to see at least 69 percent of eligible voters turn out, the record set in 1984.
Early voting had been surprisingly high in this sparsely-populated Plains region, dominated by corn fields and lifelong Republicans. In the last presidential election, 246,000 Kansans voted early, but the state estimated this year that 400,000 voted before this election day. About 113,000 North Dakotans voted early this year, which represents a surprising third of the total number of state residents who voted in the last presidential election.

Plains states officials said voting lines were long, particularly in urban areas like Wichita and Kansas City, but no major voting problems have surfaced.

Posted at 3:25 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NY: Having it Both Ways in Buffalo

By Spencer Hsu
Upstate voters reported receiving automated telephone calls urging them to vote for Obama for president and also for Republican state senate candidates in close races. The calls indicate how far even New York GOPers think the Democratic nominee's coattails might run.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) - who just won approval by the City Council to bypass a term-limits law and seek a third term as an independent -- arrived at his usual polling place PS 6 at 7:05 a.m.

Just ahead of him in line, reportedly, was former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who lives around the corner from Bloomberg.

Posted at 3:16 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1)
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CA: Same-Sex Marriage Question Draws Voters

By Theresa Vargas
With same-sex marriage on the line, California voters were showing up in mass at polling places in what is expected to be a record turnout for the nation's most populous state.

The Los Angeles Times reported some scattered problems. According to Election Protection, a national non-partisan voter assistance group, the paper wrote, some ballots and voting machines arrived late or didn't work at all. Power was also temporarily disrupted at least three polling places in South Los Angeles.

Proposition 8, which would establish a state constitutional ban on gay marriage, is one of several key issues on the ballot there. Other measures call for parental notification before a minor can get an abortion, the creation of a citizen commission to draw state legislative districts and a mandate that half of the state's electrical power be generated from renewable sources by 2025.

Posted at 3:07 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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NH: Earliest Voters Pick Obama

By Spencer Hsu
The Manchester Union-Leader reports that Barack Obama came up a big winner in first-in-the-nation voting in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location.

Obama defeated Republican John McCain by 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, and by 17 to 10 in Hart's Location, with two votes for write-in candidate Ron Paul.

The first Dixville Notch voter, following tradition established in 1948, was picked ahead of the midnight voting. The last time the town backed a Democrat was in 1968 when it favored Hubert Humphrey over Richard Nixon.

Posted at 2:57 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3)
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MA: Obama Beats Kerry? Maybe in Turnout.

By Spencer Hsu
A beautiful, "no excuses" day of sunshine and a high of 64 degrees in Boston is expected to draw record turnout in the Bay State, a bastion for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The Boston Globe reported that Secretary of State William F. Galvin said that 4,220,488 people registered by the Oct. 15 deadline, an increase of 3 percent from 2004, when Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass) led the Democratic ticket and 4,098,634 people registered in Massachusetts.

Galvin's spokesman, Brian McNiff, said a glitch was discovered in Cambridge this morning when election workers discovered that printed voter lists were defective. Corrected lists were printed and being distributed

Posted at 2:45 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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CA: Prop. 8 Weighs on Voters

By Ashley Surdin
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- An hour before the polls opened Tuesday morning, a line cascaded down the steps of Santa Monica City Hall, split around a rose garden and spilled into the street.

The quiet crowd of 30 or so harbored hope, anxiety and even song as they waited. Steam from coffee cups lifted into the damp, gray beachside haze. The American flag hung heavy from a poll.

"I want it to be November the fifth already," said Bola Ogun, 22, of Woodland Hills, standing in line. "It will be a good feeling to hear a certain someone's name."

For her, the first American in her family, natives of Nigerian, that name was Barack Obama.

"It's weird because I don't feel like I've carried a burden these last eight years, but if he wins it will feel like something has lifted, that a change is going to start" she said.

When the clock passed 7 a.m., sunlight broke from the previous night's rain clouds and landed across the lawn. A poll worker emerged from the top of city hall's steps and called out, "The polls are now open!"

It cued the crowd into a burst of applause and cheers.

Despite the excitement, Kris Langabeer was weighed down with anxiety. For Langabeer, a 53-year-old lesbian, the stakes of this election -- not only for president, but for California's gay marriage proposition -- filled her with unease.

Posted at 2:29 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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W.V.: Sunny Skies and Problem-Free Voting

By Rob Stein
Election officials in West Virginia say they are seeing moderately higher turnout than previous elections, and no problems so far.

Under sunny skies and warm temperatures, voters went to the polls throughout the state without any reports so far of any significant problems, according to Sarah Bailey of the state Board of Elections.

Polls close at 7:30.

Posted at 2:22 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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PA: Heavy Turnout and No Major Problems

By Rob Stein
Pennsylvania election officials say they are seeing heavy turnout across the state, but so far no reports of any major problems.

"What I'm hearing right now is that it's pretty heavy all over," said Leslie Amoros of the Pennsylvania Department of State.

But the unusually high voter turnout was expected, given the record number of voter registrations this year. More than 8.7 million voters registered, Amoros said.

Polls close at 8 p.m. in Pennsylvania.

Posted at 12:38 PM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (5)
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NJ: Heavy Voting, Scattered Snags

By Rob Stein
Election officials in New Jersey say they are seeing heavy voter turnout throughout the Garden State, though long lines this morning seem to be letting up as the early-morning rush of people voting on their way into works subsides.

Susan Evans, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections, says there were reports of problems with voting machines scattered throughout the state, but the balky machines were either fixed or replaced and things seem to be going smoothly now.

Although there were reports of possibly keeping the polls open beyond 8 p.m., Evans says the polls will close at the usual time. But she stressed anyone already in line by 8 p.m. will be able to vote.

Posted at 11:25 AM ET on Nov 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)
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