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Camp Obama, Camp Clinton

It was an especially tough, close fight for votes in Indiana yesterday. The DC Wire is again turning to District residents Tom Smith and Jason Berry, the Clinton and Obama volunteers respectively who've been blogging from the ground war.

Camp Obama: Jason Berry

Hi Washington,

WOW! what a crazy 36 hours. Monday night Barack spoke at the American Legion Mall in Downtown Indy. I was recruited at the last minute to help with crowd control. They had two lines - one for th general public and one for those who volunteered time for the campaign.

The line for the volunteers was seven blocks long - three abreast! The general admission line was twice that long. The crowd was wonderful mix of people who braved brief rain showers to see the man of the hour speak. We got there at 6:30 pm and we didn't leave until 11 pm. We spun by our little campaign office to plan out what we would be doing for election day.

Basically it was continued voter outreach - placing campaign literature on every supporter's door starting at 3:30 am, and followed by morning outreach in coffee shops, and diners to encourage people to vote. Building on my experience with our DC for Obama grassroots activities, my little group of volunteers went to a busy street corner and made home made "Honk for Obama!" signs to drum up enthusiasm. The response was overwhelming.

One paid staffer with me had the time of his life as people whizzed by with thumbs up, big grins and honking horns! After rush hour died down, we went back to knocking on doors to offer folks rides to the polls and reminders about their polling locations and the new photo ID requirements.

As the afternoon worn on we found most people had voted - voter turnout was phenomenal all over Indianapolis, but we still found people that needed help voting.

One older women asked me "is this a real election? - does it count? Isn't the election in November"? I patiently explained to her the primary process and helped get her to her polling location - 1 more vote! Other volunteers had similar stories and stories about people not realizing they were registered or knowing where to vote. It was reported that the Governor (a Clinton Supporter) even got confused and went to the wrong voting location.

This was all because they consolidated many polling locations in the last 2-12 months.

As 5 pm rolled around and we had only 1 hour of voting left, we went back to a busy rush-hour intersection and did some more visibility with "Honk for Obama!" signs. The joy on people's faces was so gratifying that win or lose I knew I made a difference in bringing a sense of hope.

As that last hour ticked away I reflected on the long road that got me here that ran through primaries in South Carolina, DC, Ohio, PA and now IN. I didn't know what would happen, but I felt good. That night as Clinton's margin in IN slowly kept shrinking I got to thank all my fellow volunteers and share ideas with them about how to keep their grass roots Obama groups vibrant as we move towards the general election.... since I think we got it!

Camp Clinton: Tom Smith

May 7 ... It may have taken some time last night, but finally around 1:30 AM - a full three hours after applauding Hillary Clinton at her victory party in Indianapolis, she was declared the winner of the Indiana primary by about 22,000 votes. (That's a landslide compared to the governor's race on the Democratic ballot which was decided by about 5,000 votes.) Already, the Indiana newspapers are calling on the state government to begin work now to move up the presidential primary in four years, so voters can again meet the candidates on their doorsteps.

There were a few nails that may have been chewed last night as the election results got closer. Yet, we could sense over the last few days that the election would be very close. Of course, Clinton supporters celebrating at the victory party in Indiana were disappointed by the margin of Obama's victory in North Carolina - only because we got our hopes up too high. She still beat the margin in North Carolina that so many pundits predicted only a few weeks ago.

With the exception of CBS News, no media would call the Indiana primary until Lake County, located in NW Indiana along the Illinois border, an area thought to be heavy Obama country, reported some results. But, as each hour waned on, there were still no results from Lake County. Many at the Clinton victory party speculated that this was a ploy by the Obama campaign to delay the election results and deny her the opportunity to make the 11PM newscasts. (Lake County's Democratic Party Chairman is a strong Obama supporter.) Some national media seemed outraged by the inability to get any results even suggesting there might be some "hanky panky" going on. But, Indiana media just shrugged their shoulders saying this type of "hanky panky" was standard operating procedure for the Lake County Democratic Party.

Many of my friends in DC sent me news stories in recent days speculating on the impact of the new Indiana state law requiring all voters to show a federal or state-issued ID in order to vote. Many of my friends here were convinced the new law was designed to discourage turnout, especially in the African American community. I served as an authorized poll watcher on election day in a heavily African-American part of Indianapolis and - like most polling places across the state - there was a record turnout.

Most voters had their IDs ready and most seemed to think it was a good idea. Although I saw a small news piece about a nun being turned away in South Bend because of not having an ID, no such thing happened at my polling place - where four different precincts voted. Any individual who did not have an ID and was registered to vote was to allowed to file a provisional ballot and then given 10 days to get the proper ID for that vote to count.

As a poll watcher, I observed some would-be voters giving names to the poll workers that were on the voter registration rolls, but whose IDs did not match their face - or whose names on the ID were different than the name they gave to the poll worker to obtain a ballot.

The polling place was not without other problems as well. Having four different precincts vote in the same polling place was confusing for voters and slowed up lines during the day. Police were called to the polling place where I worked because of a fight that broke out between Clinton and Obama supporters.

I saw people taking voters to the voting machines and voting for them without the oversight of an elections judge and without filing the proper affidavit authorizing such voting assistance. Because poll workers did not know how to properly handle provisional ballots, many voters who should have been voting provisional ballots were simply waved ahead to the voting machines instead of being required to vote on a provisional ballot.

This is the third state outside of DC where I have volunteered for the Clinton campaign - and each of these states could learn something about running elections from DC.

Despite these irregularities, there was an excitement and enthusiasm in the air at the polls because so many people - many for the first time - were exercising their right to vote in record numbers.

And last night, I had my chance to sit on the stage behind Hillary Clinton when she gave her victory speech. Although the victory had not yet been confirmed by the media, she already was the victor among those of us in the room. The determination and loyalty of her supporters seems to grow with each new state primary.

As for me, I'm exhausted. (I don't know how the candidates do it!) It was an eventful five days of rallies, canvassing, and more, including some very pointed discussions with people from across the country about some of DC's super delegates and their allegiances. But, it was also five days of quick showers, food on the run, very early mornings, and very little sleep. I had a great time!

As a volunteer, I am now three for three having worked and won in Texas and Pennsylvania before Indiana. But, I'm a victor, too, because I have made so many new friends on the campaign trail. This experience also has given me a renewed appreciation for being engaged politically right here at home in DC. People like you and me help make our democracy work. And that's a good thing.

Now that we've heard from Tom and Jason, we want to hear from you. After Barack Obama's big win in North Carolina and Hillary Rodham Clinton's slim victory in Indiana, is the race for the Democratic nomination finally over? Should Clinton fold up her tent? If she does, will/should Obama ask her to be his veep on the Dem's ticket against Republican nominee John McCain?

By Marcia Davis  |  May 7, 2008; 10:31 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Presidential Race  
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