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The Nation

November 4, 2008
Christopher Hayes

One of the most excruiating parts of election day is that it's an epistemic black hole. Not just for the public, for us reporters and even inside the campaign. The Obama campaign actually has a fairly sophisticated system for tracking turnout today, but good luck trying to get that information out of them. (Believe me. I tried) Which means for those who aren't out on line waiting to vote, and aren't out knocking on doors you have three hours and forty minutes of hitting refresh on your browser before polls close. So I thought as a time-passing service I'd post all the pieces I've ever written about Obama. You'd have to be pretty desperate for distraction to read them all, but the last three hours of election day can be desperation inducing.

Wanted: New Voters

Obama, Politics and the Pulpits

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November 4, 2008
Christopher Hayes

Another dispatch from Emma. One thing to keep in mind. Today somewhere around 130 million people are going to cast votes. If there's, say, a 1% error rate, which would be tremendously low, that still means 1.3 million instances nationwide of problems. That is not at all to suggest that the way we run elections is anything but a disgrace, but just to keep in mind that even thousands of instances of screw-ups, long waits, etc does not necessarily (stress necessarily) indicate anything at all systematic, other than logistical failures. Andrew Gumbel is also following this story, right here n Virginia.

WASHINGTON, DC -- From Nation intern Emma Dumain, comes a seconddispatch from the Election Protection command center:

WASHINGTON-DC Stresses are running high inside the Election Protection command center as it nears its double-digit hours of the day. There are some technical glitches, as to be expected with such a high volume of calls coming in (1-866-OUR-VOTE) and heavy traffic on the website (www.ourvotelive.com).

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November 4, 2008
The Nation

By 10:00 am, 565 students at the Florida A&M University at Tallahassee, Florida already voted.

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November 4, 2008
The Nation

By 7am, there was already a line of over 1000 students waiting to vote at Penn State University, PA.

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November 4, 2008
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

After two years, $2.5 billion, hundreds of speeches and dozens of debates, the most historic election campaign in modern American history is finally drawing to a close.

Yesterday, I posted some ideas for actions people can take if confronted with voter suppression efforts.

Click here if you've had a problem at the polls today.

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November 4, 2008
Christopher Hayes

WASHINGTON, DC -- From Nation intern Emma Dumain, comes this dispatch:

It's like the Situation Room here at Election Protection's National Command Center in Washington, DC, where the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law is overseeing the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline. The group has hundreds of volunteer lawyers and law students manning 750 phone stations at 25 centers across the country, prepared to respond to calls regarding Election Day roadblocks, but its also doubling as a site for live press briefings from voting rights experts and coalition leaders.

Watching the electronic maps here projected onto a giant screen--tracking minute-by-minute reports from the polls, state-by-state--is like watching an army advance toward the battlefield. The forty or so on-call volunteers cradle phone receivers between their ears and shoulders as they type updates onto their laptops. The walls are covered in home-made signs with FAQs: "Can I take time off from work to vote?" and "What if I never received an absentee ballot?"

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November 4, 2008
Christopher Hayes

EMPORIA, VA -- Stipulating up front that this post violates the law of small numbers, but what the heck, I'm a reporter, right? We don't need no stinkin social science. Anyway, just walked a precinct in this small town with a UNITE-HERE organizer who's been down her for two months. We hit about 30 doors, and of the dozen or so people who were home every single one of them had voted. This is at noon.

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November 4, 2008
Christopher Hayes

EMPORIA, VA - There are no lines to vote in this sleepy town and 80 miles south of Richmond, but that doesn't mean turnout isn't high. When I asked a poll worker at the local social services office polling location she said "Oh it's very high, I can tell you that." As word streams in from around the country of long lines to vote, particularly in polling locations that are usually as quiet and empty as a church on Wednesday, it strikes me that over several decades of low turnout contests (presidential elections strain to buck 50% turnout of eligible voters) our entire election system has now come to orient itself towards low-turnout elections. All of a sudden we're finding out that if even two thirds of eligible voters decide to vote, and that would be high even for the estimates in this election, the system can't handle it.

Seems like the default should be an election system that is designed for and can process every single person on the polls. If there's spare capacity it doesn't seem too high a cost to pay to make sure everyone gets a chance to exercise the franchise.

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November 4, 2008
Richard Kim
Richard Kim

It's a bright, sparkling Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, and about a thousand people of all hues and ages are flocking to the south lawn of City Hall. The majority of the crowd is Chinese, but there's a sizable group of Latinos and pockets of South Asians, Koreans, Vietnamese and Indonesians. There are only a handful of black people, but they flow with ease through the throng. There are a few conspicuous white guys in suits too, cloistered around the stage where a band plays sing-along tunes. The mood is buoyant, affectionate. There are balloons and banners everywhere; a jolly Chinese mother cuts up a cake; snapshots are taken; cars honk. People gather in family clusters; grandparents play with children--who make up about half the crowd.

It's the happiest, most diverse political event I've ever been to, and it's not for Barack Obama. It's for Proposition 8--the California ballot initiative that would eliminate the right of gays and lesbian to marry, which some 14,000 same-sex couples have exercised since the state Supreme Court ruled in their favor earlier this summer. Here and now at City Hall, where a good share of those same-sex weddings took place, there's not a single Obama or McCain button in the mix. Instead, everyone is wearing red t-shirts that proclaim in both English and Chinese--Protect Marriage. Yes on 8. The toddlers' shirts have an added touch: I Love My Mommy and Daddy.

When I ask people whom they'll vote for, a few say McCain; a few more say Obama. But the vast majority say, "Yes on 8."

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