November 4th, 2008
02:25 PM ET

What I saw in line at the polls

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/04/art.chuck.voting.jpg

caption="83rd BETWEEN 1st AND 2nd, NEW YORK CITY"]
Editor's Note: We knew voters would turn out in full force, but even we were surprised at what we saw. AC360°  staff share their voting stories.

Penny Manis
AC360° Senior Producer

Precinct 111 on 53rd and 9th told me I was in wrong place after looking at my paperwork, and sent me to another site a block away. When I got to second location, they also told me I was in wrong place and sent me back to where I started to begin with! I guess the guy at the original location misread the number of my district. Thankfully the line was very short and I was in and out in 10 minutes when I was finally at the right place. Had it not been for the original confusion and circling of my block trying to vote, it would've been a totally pleasant and quick experience. After some initial irritation, in the end I guess it was all good. I was happy to vote as it was an inspiring experience, and what the heck some brisk morning exercise isn’t terrible, right?

Filed under: 2008 Election • AC360° Staff • Voting
November 4th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

Mississippi Waiting

Kay Jones
AC360° Senior editorial producer

In Southaven, Mississippi, lines were 30-45 minutes long. In 15 years of voting in that area, my dad had never had to wait in line. This was the first time he remembers ever having to wait.

Also, students had the day off, but public school teachers had to report to work anyway. And they were only allowed short times to go vote. With lines even just 30 minutes long, my dad said, many teachers haven't had time to vote and make it back to work on time.

Filed under: Kay Jones • Voting
November 4th, 2008
01:54 PM ET

Why did you vote?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/04/art.miamivoting.jpg caption="Miami voters line up at the polls on election day."]
John Zarrella
CNN Miami Correspondent

Why did you vote? Many of those I asked answered simply, saying it's a right we have and it shouldn't be wasted.

For others it is far more personal. I ran into a young man named Rick Garcia coming out of Fire Station 33 after he voted. Rick had tears in his eyes. He had voted before but it never meant as much as this time, he said. Or for that matter, to his friends.

"I got a lot of friends who would never normally register to vote and they were just calling me, 'Where do I go? What do I do?'" Here you go, I'll bring you the paperwork, he told them.

The reason for the enthusiasm, Rick's brother Jair DeJesus Garcia. A private in the U.S. Army, Garcia was killed in Afghanistan. Rick's eyes welled up as he told me the story.

"August 1st of this year he passed away, roadside bomb. It's the main reason why I came to vote."

"In his honor?"

"In his honor, yes. He would want everybody as American citizens to do it."

Rick wears a button with his brother's picture on it and a dogtag around his next. His brother was with Easy Company out of Fort Hood, Texas. He volunteered at age 29 and had only been in Afganistan two months when he died.

Rick says many in his family had never voted before. They too are voting today.

Rick says he will never be able to erase the pain of loss. But voting made him feel at ease, at least for awhile.

Filed under: 2008 Election • John Zarrella • Raw Politics • Voting
October 28th, 2008
12:58 PM ET

Calls for felony investigation of ACORN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/28/art.acorn.jpg]
Drew Griffin | BIO
CNN Investigative Correspondent

The Indiana secretary of state has not only found ACORN submitted hundreds and hundreds of fraudulent registration forms, but is now asking for investigations by the U.S. Attorney and the local prosecutor for possible felony violations by the group.

As we reported three weeks ago, the ACORN voter registration drive in northwest Indiana was fraught with problems, more than 2,000 voter registration forms turned in by ACORN were no good.

Now the Indiana secretary of state says his review of the ACORN submissions leads him to the opinion ACORN did indeed break the law. In a letter to the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and the local lake county prosecutor, Indiana’s republican secretary of state Todd Rokita says there is credible evidence that ACORN, “its officers, agents and employees, through direct action, conspiracy or inducement” – violated four Indiana state election laws, violated Indiana’s racketeer and corrupt organizations law, and violated federal election law.

Filed under: Drew Griffin • Raw Politics • Voting • Voting issues
October 27th, 2008
01:14 PM ET

Know the rules, watch out for tricks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.vert.votingbooth.jpg width=292 height=320]Hill Harper

Participatory democracy only works if we participate. That means knowing the rules and watching out for tricks.

Since January, excitement has been building around this historic presidential campaign. But now our nation faces a crucial test as Election Day approaches—some states now have strict identification requirements for voters, a move that could stymie the anticipated growth in political participation.

Whatever the motive for the tougher voter requirements, public officials, civic leaders, activists and media outlets must work to ensure that voters in their states understand the rules about what constitutes proper identification at the polls. It would be a serious blow to our democracy if droves of voters, perhaps excited for the first time about their participation and choices, are turned away at the polls. Given the low voter turnout rates we have witnessed over the past 30 years, our democracy cannot afford to disillusion people participating for the first time.

And given the current economic crisis, it is more important than ever that the American people participate in the voting process and feel vested in selecting the path for the nation's future. This is especially true for those who believe that change is needed in Washington and that our current public officials and representatives have not necessarily acted in the best interest of our families, our communities or our future.


Editor's Note: Hill Harper currently stars in the hit television drama CSI: N.Y. and is the best-selling author of "Letters To a Young Brother and Letters To a Young Sister."

Filed under: Raw Politics • Voting • Voting issues
October 24th, 2008
09:00 AM ET

Who cares about Asian American voters?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.asianamericans.voters.jpg.jpg caption="Truong Diep, left, speaks with Vietnamese-American women Nguyen Thanh, 72, as Diep campaigns for Sen. John McCain Wednesday, in the Little Saigon area of Westminster, CA."]Jane Junn
Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University

The McCain and Obama campaigns should.

More than a third of Asian American likely voters were undecided about their choice for the U.S. President as recently as two weeks ago, according to new data from the 2008 National Asian American Survey. A national sample of 4,394 found 41 percent support Barack Obama while 24 percent say they will vote for John McCain.

Which presidential candidate will win the largest share of undecided Asian American likely voters? Much of that will depend on mobilization efforts, which could make the difference in battleground states where a few thousand votes can tip the balance.


October 23rd, 2008
04:53 PM ET

Why the long lines in Florida

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.florida.lines.jpg caption="People stand in line to vote early Wednesday in Pompano Beach, Fla. Unprecedented numbers of early voters in the South are prompting local election officials to take measures to make people comfortable as they wait for hours to cast their ballots."]
Paul Gronke
Director, Early Voting Information Center at Reed College

The first two days of early voting in Florida have not been kind to the Sunshine State. Already, elderly voters are having difficulties filling out ballots in Palm Beach County (the same county that produced the infamous butterfly ballot in 2000). Duval and Leon Counties are having problems feeding the ballots into the optical scanners. And voters throughout the state are experiencing long lines, sometimes multiple hours long.

It's not that Florida elections officials are not trying hard–I have met a number of local and state elections officials, and they are dedicated public servants who really just want to get the election
right. I have seen no evidence of a conspiracy to subvert the democratic process.

But what I have seen is a tendency among state leaders to respond *too* quickly to election breakdowns, adopting new technology and rejecting old technology without learning the lessons of the past.

This year, the problem that Florida is experiencing with long lines could have been anticipated. To the credit of state officials here, they decertified their electronic voting machines because voter confidence in the machines had reached rock bottom. But in their desire to move to a paper-based system, Florida adopted a relatively new and untested technology: "ballot on demand." Glitches associated with ballot on demand are the cause of most of the problems this year.


Filed under: Paul Gronke • Raw Politics • Voting
October 23rd, 2008
04:49 PM ET

The Unseen Avalanche: Young voters in 2008

Some Cincinnati, Ohio voters camp out overnight in order to be one of the first to cast their ballot early.
Some Cincinnati, Ohio voters camp out overnight in order to be one of the first to cast their ballot early.
Rob Grabow
Author, "
Voting with Our Pants Down"

Young voters, 44 million strong, are the country's second largest voting bloc this year. There are more of us than there are citizens of Spain, or residents in 40 Montanas. To provide a visual, if you were to lay us out flat lengthwise, we would circumnavigate the globe twice. The relevance of these numerical values and images bears on the fact we are going to turn out in record numbers this year.

But because we have a limited voice in the national political debate, the claim that we will cast ballots in droves may seem naive. What makes this election year different than others in past?

For starters, nearly 80 percent of young voters are registered to vote. And some 74 percent seriously plan on turning out this election. Those results are based on a self poll and should be understood in that context. Nevertheless, at minimum, these polls are a bellwether, indicative of a significant unseen catalyst.

True, registration doesn't guarantee turnout. However, a voter who makes it to the polls once is much more likely to visit again. And three times more young voters caucused in Iowa in 2008 during the Democratic primary than in 2004. Young voter turnout in New Hampshire was 271 percent higher than the previous presidential primary. On Super Tuesday, almost three-million young voters made it to the polls, significantly more than any Tuesday past. This baseline is also building on the bar established in 2004, a year that saw a near-record level of young voter participation, almost 50 percent. All of these trends should make your spine tingle, toes curl, and hair stand on end, because it means we're coming out.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Rob Grabow • Voting • youth vote
October 22nd, 2008
05:44 PM ET

Voter fraud

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/22/art.absentee.ballot.jpg]Peter Ferrara
The American Spectator

In 1980, fresh out of school and working on Wall Street, I also worked for the Reagan campaign. I had the job every night at around 11 p.m. of going to Times Square and getting one of the first copies of the next day's New York Times. I would take it to the Reagan New York City headquarters in midtown Manhattan, where a phone number would be left for me as to where the traveling Reagan campaign party was staying that night. My job was to cut out the articles in the Times covering the Presidential campaign and "quip" (an early fax) them to the hotel where the Reagan party was staying.

As the election neared, I learned that the campaign high command had decided that Reagan would probably not win unless he racked up a vote margin of 2-3%. That was what was thought necessary to overcome Democrat big city machine voter fraud.

On Election Day, I was part of a team working to counter that fraud in New York City. A couple of us went to heavily Democrat neighborhoods to see what was going on. One of those was the orthodox Jewish Williamsburg neighborhood. A van was driving through the streets blaring something over and over in Yiddish. I asked my Jewish partner what the van was blaring. He said the van's message was "Vote for Reagan. He's the only hope." I knew then that Reagan would win, as he did 51% to 41%.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Voting
October 17th, 2008
09:41 PM ET

Score one for Ohio voters

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Editor's note: The Supreme Court today threw out a lawsuit by the Ohio Republican Party that would have forced Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, to verify records of thousands of voters whose information didn't match up with government databases. The state Republican Party contends that there is widespread voter fraud in Ohio and Brunner "turned off" its process for verifying voter registrations while allowing Ohioans to cast ballots on the same day they registered. The justices in an unsigned opinion blocked a lower court order directing Brunner to update the state's voter registration database by today.

Ian Inaba
Co-founder, Video the Vote

Just hours away from having to release a list of about 200,000 voters whose names don’t match other government databases, the Supreme Court has granted Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a reprieve . The Court actually sidestepped the question of whether Brunner is in compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, deciding instead that the GOP had no standing to bring the case.

Although it ruled based on a technicality, we at Video the Vote think the Court landed on the side of the voters. Releasing the list would have led to more provisional ballots, partisan challenges, longer lines, and further erosion of confidence in our election system. And it would have done very little to prevent supposed “voter fraud,” which, as has been extensively documented, doesn’t need much preventing.

As an aside, while most voters will never have to cast a provisional ballot, or wait in hour long lines, it’s worth listening to those who have. There are few things more disempowering than having obstacles put between you and the voting booth.

This decision makes us wonder if the Court is taking pains to avoid helping (or appearing to help) one party over the other in fights over votes. After all, in some eyes, the shadow of the Bush v. Gore decision still hangs over the court.


Filed under: Ian Inaba • Voting
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