(12 of 15)
Orlando: This Time, It's Personalized,
7:45 a.m. E.T.
Just how organized is Barack Obama's vaunted campaign ground operation? Consider this: Last minute door hanger campaign ads placed on homes in Central Florida by Obama operatives are personalized precinct-by-precinct. On the back of the hanger, under detailed instructions on how to vote, in a block titled "Where You Vote," is the name of the building, street address and precinct number of the resident's polling place. Getting voters to the correct precinct is no minor issue. In the close 2000 presidential election, more than a million registered voters were turned away from the polls because of clerical and other errors, including voters showing up at the wrong precinct. Democrats believe poor people are often disenfranchised because they move more frequently, thus are less likely to know where to vote. By Barbara Liston / Orlando
Missouri: The Long Ballot,
8:00 a.m. E.T.
A record-setting 76% of voters, or 3.2 million people, are expected today at the polls in Missouri, which has no early voting. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is warning of long lines and urging people to "come ready to wait it out." Voters casting absentee ballots the demand has been nearly twice the normal level this year have had to wait two hours or more in Kansas City and St. Louis. Adding to fears of chaos is the sheer length of the ballot. For instance, in St. Louis County a key suburban area outside central St. Louis three sales tax hikes are among the issues on a ballot that will take informed voters 10 minutes to complete, says Republican consultant Paul Zemitzsch. A novice voter might need 20 minutes to digest it. By Karen Ball / Kansas City
Tallahassee: What Problems?
6:00 a.m. E.T.
The sun has yet to rise over the Church of the Nazarene in Tallahassee as poll worker Curt Hall pulls out the chalk line. For the past four years, the retiree has been an election volunteer at the church, which serves as the polling place for Precincts 5213 and 5214. Hall marches off 100 feet and places a marker. When the polls open in less than an hour, the only people allowed within that radius will be those ready to cast a ballot. He points to a hedge on the other side of the church parking lot, just visible in the pre-dawn light. He measured that distance last year so he knows. "Just checking," said Hall, donning the yellow mesh vest that will mark him for the next 13 hours.
Outside the door, Dan Mayer stands alone. Ipod-engaged, the 8th grade American history teacher at Fairview Middle School is the first person in line. He's gotten here an hour early, concerned that long lines would have greeted him had he come later. Mayer's class has been following the election closely, analyzing campaign ads for their emotional and factual messages and reviewing notable past elections including the 2000 race that put Florida at the center of a political storm for 37 days. He doubts this election will be sent into overtime. "I don't think it's going to be as close as it was during the last election," said Mayer, who declined to disclose his choice. "It looks like Obama has built a pretty solid lead."(See pictures of Barack Obama's campaign behind the scenes.)
With nearly 40% of county voters having cast early ballots, Hall said the chances of a logjam are slim. The church serves as poll stop for only about 1,300 voters. "If all the Smith's come at one time we'll have a line," Hall says. "Otherwise. We'll be OK." Any problems anticipated? "Here?" Hall chuckles as he rolls up the chalk line to lock it away until next time. "None." By Michael Peltier / Tallahassee
In Texas: A Primary Ghost,
7:30 a.m. E.T.
Yesterday, Dallas was witness to shades and shadows of what might have been. Onetime presidential contender John Edwards sat with family mourners at the funeral of his former national finance chairman, Dallas attorney Fred Baron,. It was Baron who confirmed in August that he had sent funds to Edwards' now acknowledged mistress. The multimillionaire attorney and key Democratic fundraiser, who made a fortune in asbestos lawsuits, died of cancer just days before the climax of the main event in American politics. Baron had played a key role in reviving the Texas Democratic Party. In 2005, he launched the Texas Democratic Trust, just one of several vehicles he would use to support statehouse candidates.
As his funeral took place Monday, Austin radio airwaves reverberated with ads criticizing one Baron-backed Democratic statehouse candidate for taking money, as the ad put it, from a trial lawyer who had paid off Edwards' mistress. At the funeral, Iowa Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat and friend of the Iowa-born Baron, said the late attorney loved spending hours on the telephone raising money for the Democrats. Culver also told Edwards that Baron was the ex-presidential candidate's "biggest fan." Edwards did not speak at the funeral. By Hilary Hylton / Austin
Chicago: A Fear of Violence,
7:30 a.m. E.T.
By most accounts, Barack Obama's adopted hometown is treating Nov. 4 as a sort of holiday. Businesses are closing mid-afternoon, if they're bothering to open at all. Classes are canceled. German tourists are marching down Chicago's most prominent boulevard, Michigan Avenue, wearing tee-shirts bearing Obama's face.The authorities estimate some 1 million people will assemble in downtown Chicago for what they believe will be celebration tonight in Grant Park, overlooking Lake Michigan. Never mind that there are barely 70,000 official tickets to the official Obama-Biden party.
However, the euphoric mood here is tempered by concern about violence mainly because of the crowd's expected size. Each summer, nearly 1 million people flock to one of the city's most popular festivals, the Taste of Chicago, in Grant Park. But last year's festival was marred by several shootings, at least one fatal, near Grant Park. This summer witnessed several shootings throughout the city, including one last weekend that saw seven people shot near a West Side nightclub. Just over a week ago, the country was riveted by the slaying of several members of the family of actress Jennifer Hudson in the Englewood section of the city's South Side. By Steven Gray / Chicago