With the Allen-Webb race in a dead heat, the Allen campaign is claiming that the incredibly high turnout in Virginia is from Christian conservatives who showed up to vote for the anti-gay marriage amendment. CNN is reporting that over 100,000 more absentee ballots were cast this year than in the last midterm elections, and activists I spoke to said that the wait at some poll stations was over 45 minutes long.
I just got off the phone with Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, the campaign manager of The Commonwealth Coalition, the hard-charging group who’ve moved the marriage amendment from a right-wing sure thing to a live issue. Gastanaga dismissed the Allen campaign’s claim as just smoke and mirrors. She’s highly skeptical that high turnout has been motivated from the right-wing. “We’re seeing high turnout in northern Virginia where the latest Mason-Dixon poll showed us ahead on the issue 60-38,” says Gastanaga.
Gastanaga concedes that turnout is high across the state and includes some right-wing voters, but she says, “There’s a lot of intensity on our side of the issue too.”
Gastanaga also has heard of reports of voter intimidation and Republican dirty tricks. In Roanoke, two of the voting stations are at churches where marquees read “Vote yes on Amendment 1″ and where parishoners had ringed the parking lot with cars covered in vote yes bumper stickers. “Voters had to get through a phalanx to get to the poll,” she said.
CNN is also reporting that the FBI is investigating phone calls that inaccurately told voters they may be inelligible to vote. I’ll post more when I know more.