(10 of 15)
Obama and Florida's Jewish Vote,
10:00 a.m. E.T.
Palm Beach County's Jewish population, one of the most heavily-concentrated in the country, was split earlier this summer when Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton stepped aside as presidential nominee. But the community seems to be coming together for Barack Obama. More than 100 people stood in line by 7 a.m. Tuesday outside Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach. Michelle Sachnin, 41, a Jewish voter from Boynton Beach, admitted she was a Hillary supporter, but had no doubts where she would place her support come today. "Obama. I've always been a Democrat. And I believe in everything he stands for," Sachnin said. "I thought that the country would be better off with either of them," meaning Obama or Clinton. She said she didn't have many concerns on Obama's real or perceived stance on Israel.
But Palm Beach County GOP chairman Sid Dinerstein, who is Jewish, said it was the 65-year-old, more affluent Jews whom he believed would move toward McCain, particularly "a lot who haven't voted Republican before." "When you are the candidate of [Louis] Farrakhan...the Jews with an open mind get very, very nervous," Dinerstein said. The Clintons, he said, would never have made a comment like Obama's that Palestinians are among the world's most oppressed people, then gone after the Jewish vote. Dinerstein's optimistic prediction: Some 30% of Jewish voters across the country will vote for McCain. By Hector Florin / Boynton Beach
Cleveland: Don't Forget to Vote,
9 a.m. E.T.
A few minutes before polls opened at 6:30 a.m., it was still pitch dark along Cleveland's streets and difficult to see the campaign signs or even the "Vote Here" ones. But those who always vote at St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church on Cleveland's far west side knew exactly where to go. By 6:20 a.m. the parking lot was filling up quickly and an almost all-white crowd of 30-some voters had formed. All across Cleveland, polls opened on time and short lines formed immediately.
In past elections, Daryn Smalley, a 32-year-old financial trainer at the Cleveland Clinic, took his time, sauntering into St. Mary's in the late afternoon. Today is different. He's here to vote for Barack Obama. "I wanted to get in as early as possible and avoid the rush," Smalley said. Maria Wright, 55, is a grandmother used to voting early on Election Day. She isn't too excited about this year's choices for president. "I don't like either of them," she says and has resorted to picking John McCain. "He's just the lesser of two evils." By Charu Gupta / Cleveland</p>
In Virginia: Obama's "Houdini" Project,
8:30 a.m. E.T.
Amid the long lines seen during early morning voting across Virginia, Obama volunteers have begun to put a special, research-driven, get-out-the vote campaign called the "Houdini" project. It is designed to locate areas where the campaign can get more voters to the polls. Stationed at polling places, Obama volunteers check voters against a database of known voters in the area, compiled through a mixture of door-to-door canvassing and publicly available information. "Names of voters get passed to an outside representative who has a targeted list," says Steven Mostow, 38, a volunteer at an Alexandria polling station. "The list goes to another Obama person who uploads it into a housing database compiled by canvassing door-to-door." Then campaign volunteers in the pin-pointed areas head off to bring inthe voters. "This means a great deal to me because I think we are at an important point in our history," he says. And with Houdini, he hopes to work magic. By Kris Osborn / Alexandria
Minnesota: Where Comedy Isn't Pretty,
8:30 a.m. E.T.
Ben Golnik, the McCain campaign's regional manager, asserts McCain is viable here, despite polls that have showed Obama in double digit leads and that the state hasn't voted for a Republican president since Richard Nixon in 1972. Golnik argued that a Hillary Clinton rally indicated Democrats were worried about their chances of taking the state. Clinton made two stops in Duluth, a northern city near the Iron Range where Republicans hope McCain can steal union votes from Democrats.
Democrats are nevertheless certain Obama will take Minnesota's 10 Electoral College votes. They explain that Senator Clinton's visits were not intended to shore up support for Obama but to help Senate hopeful (and former comic) Al Franken. Bill and Hillary Clinton have campaigned separately in Minneapolis for Franken, mentioning Obama but a few times. "We're a bit more concerned about Franken winning," says Francis Pasnecker, a Democratic Party activist. Indeed, the latest Minneapolis Star Tribune poll showed Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman statistically tied in a race awash with nasty accusations. The poll also showed 15% of voters prefer Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley. By Justin P. Horwath / Minneapolis
Michigan: No Talking to Voters Please,
8:00 a.m. E.T.
Here in Michigan, medical marijuana is on the ballot. So is stem cell research. Election Day weather forecasts call for 72 degrees and lots of sun. Huh? Apparently, Michigan is masquerading as California. But in a year featuring record housing foreclosures, massive job losses and the prospect of the Big Three Automakers downsizing to the Nearly Bankrupt Two, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Michigan residents want to try something different. Some cities are predicting as many as 80 percent to 90 percent of those registered will vote. Election officials have added booths and volunteers, but are cautioning voters to be patient, and plan to wait in line.
Cadres of poll watchers, and people watching the poll watchers, are in place. They're hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2004 election, where waits of two hours occurred when poll watchers and election challengers wrongly disrupted the flow of voters. Five different groups are sending observers into 17 Grand Rapids polling sites, where they'll be under strict new state guidelines governing their behavior. First and foremost? No talking directly to voters. (In Chicago, a reporter was reprimanded for trying to ask former radical Bill Ayers who he voted for.) By Maggie Sieger / Grand Rapids