If John McCain isn't the next president, it won't be for lack of trying—he's called Barack Obama everything from a terrorist to a socialist. And yet, with a week to go, it is increasingly clear this election is Obama's to lose. Which leaves McCain with one last tried-and-true tactic: Steal the thing.
For all the talk about the "Bradley effect," the margin of error may not be the one created by whites who won't put their votes where their polling mouths will. Barack Obama's more serious hurdle may be winning big enough to make up for the votes that never actually get cast or counted.
Watchdogs have spent the fall charting a map of battleground states for the building fight over voting rights. These are the places where battles over the legalities of voting will be waged right up to Election Day—and God forbid, could go on for days and weeks thereafter. They are the places where an eight-year-long tug of war between those who want to make voting more accessible and those who want to make it still more difficult will climax.
"Some problems are unavoidable," says Daniel Seligman of the Pew Center on the States' Electiononline.org. "Somewhere in this country a machine is going to screw up. Somewhere a voter is going to be asked for an ID who doesn't have to show it. But these problems can be magnified." So last week, Seligman and his colleagues at Pew put together their own list of states where the confluence of new voters, Republican shenanigans and official negligence could blow those unavoidable problems up into this year's Florida or Ohio.
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