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Voters Turn Out, Confusion Ensues

Voting should be easy. You show up and cast your ballot. Done. But officials across the country are making it more difficult than necessary to vote, creating confusion among voters. In Florida, hundreds of voters got locked out of the election site by Mayor Carlos Gimenez who sought to stop early voting. In Pennsylvania, you do not need to have an ID to cast your ballot but election officials are still allowed to ask for one. In New Hampshire, those without photo IDs have to fill out a challenged voter affidavit before they are allowed to fill out a ballot. Adding on top of all this the mess that Hurricane Sandy created in New York and New Jersey and we have a recipe for a messy Election Day ahead of us. There is going to continue to be a lot of confusion out there and America Votes and our partners are working hard to make sure that everyone knows the information they need to be able to cast their ballot today. We are not going to let people be swayed from voting because of these roadblocks that have been put up.

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How Long is Too Long?

It's finally Election Day 2012, and all across the country people are gearing up to express a right fundamental to being an American, the right to vote for whoever we want. And yet this year it seems to be harder than ever to vote. Remember the line for the coolest ride at an amusement park? As you wrapped in and out of polls, from this point 2 hours, from this point 45 minutes and so on, it was torture, and yet in 2012 those are the kinds of lines we are asking voters to stand in as the express their rights as Americans.There are countless stories of long lines, tired voters and voters who had to leave lines because of family or work obligations. Due to a dramatic decrease in the cumulative hours that early voting centers are open in a number of swing states, we're seeing record-breaking lines for the polls. In Florida, lines for the polls exceed 6 hours in some places. In Ohio, lines wrapped around city blocks as people waited out in the cold. In Virginia, the frustration of voters waiting was palatable. Six-Hour Wait to Vote

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We Voted Early, Did You?

While the turnout for early voting has not been as high as in 2008, Democrats are still holding the lead in early voting in most key states. More than 29.9 million people cast their ballots early and out of that Obama holds the lead in four out of five of the major battleground states. Democrats are outpacing Republicans in Florida 42-39.5%, in Nevada 44-37%, in Iowa 42-32%, and in North Carolina 48-31%! While Ohio does have early voting, party affiliation cannot be tracked; however, Obama continues to remain the favorite in polling across the state. Colorado is the only swing state where Republicans have bested Democrats in early voting turnout by 37-34%, but 28.5% of voters were unaffiliated and Obama continues to do well among independents in the state. We want to thank all of you who have worked hard in the ground game with all of the GOTV initiatives. You all did a great job and we know your hard work will pay off come the end of tomorrow night.

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The following is a blog post from Evan Kost, who works in America
Votes' D.C. office, but is in New Hampshire through the election as a
field volunteer:

Greetings from New Hampshire!  What a whirlwind thus far.  Having not visited the state until this GOTV adventure, I have to say I’ve found it inviting, but not without its challenges. For example, it may be a beautiful site to canvass along the remote coast line, but I truly long for the days of row houses and suburban developments!

Levity aside, I have been continually inspired by the enthusiasm of the Granite State’s citizens, even those located outside of the political epicenter. This enthusiasm was seen no more clearly than at today’s presidential rally held in Concord, where the crowd’s passion was palpable over the course of the 5+ hour event. I certainly hope New Hampshirites carry this excitement into Tuesday’s elections.

With that said, what has struck me the most during my trip is the strength of the America Votes-New Hampshire coalition. Led by AV-NH State Director Josiette White, it is a highly collaborative, efficient, and dynamic operation. The way in which our state partners work together to reach common goals is both a testament to the America Votes model, as well as the sharp leadership provided by Josiette and the rest of the AV-NH team.

Over the past few days, I’ve been sent out on a variety of GOTV-related assignments, all of which have placed me in close contact with our state partners. Whether labeling literature for Planned Parenthood, cutting turf for CREDO, or canvassing for NH Citizens Alliance for Action, I’ve come to the realization that this truly is a team sport, so to speak.  And after spending time with AV-NH, I can’t imagine it any other way.

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AV IN THE FIELD -- Canvassing in Philadelphia

The following is a blog post from Dawn Boudwin, who works in America Votes' D.C. office, but is in Philadelphia through the election as a field volunteer:

We canvassed in the Fishtown yesterday.  Fishtown is a neighborhood located in the northeastern part of Philadelphia that is mostly blue collar. The area earned its name because it used to be the center of the river herring fishing industry on the Delaware River.

Although the area did not look very inviting, the voters were. The enthusiasm is still there. The voters were appreciative that we were stopping by and assured us that they would be voting for the President, Senator Casey and Kathleen Kane.  The voters seemed to understand what is at stake in this election.

One supporter told us he was voting and was going to personally take the other three eligible voters in his household to the polls because he, “truly can’t even imagine what a country with Mitt Romney as President would be like” and that the thought of it is “scary.”

Volunteers have been streaming through the SEIU canvass office this weekend, and we expect that to continue through Tuesday.


Related State: 
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“Hey GOP: Get your hands off of me!”

The GOP is continuing its assault on women.

Last night Republican Senatorial candidate for Indiana, Richard Mourdock, stated that he believed that pregnancies resulting from rape are "something that God intended to happen.” Bring in the damage control.

After Todd Akin’s remarks about “legitimate rape,” one would think the GOP candidates had learned to keep such opinions to themselves. And to add insult to injury, the NRSC is still standing by Mourdock and his comments. Why do these men keep saying such crazy things? How could they possibly believe the words coming out of their mouths?

The sad reality is that this really is what these men believe. They truly believe that abortion should be completely illegal even in the case of rape; sometimes, even when the mother’s life is at risk.

But these men will never have to be in a woman’s position. They will never have to make that horribly difficult choice to have an abortion. Women are the only ones that can truly know what other women have had to go through to make such a choice. It is their body, their choice.

It is time for women to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” They cannot take away your right of choice. They cannot take away your freedom of choice. It is time for the GOP to get their hands off of women’s bodies and concentrate more on the important issues our nation is currently facing.

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Two new pieces from the President of America Votes

Read Joan Fitz-Gerald's recent Huffington Post blog entries.

Two recent blog entries by America Votes President Joan Fitz-Gerald:

"The Romney Plan: Fake It Till You Make It" was written shortly after the first Presidential debate and describes what former Gov. Mitt Romney's policies could mean for America.

"A Choice That Matters" reflects on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's ever-changing views on a woman's right choose and if he is elected what that could mean in regards to women's rights.


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C.E.O.s tell employees “Vote Romney…or else!”

Recently, Koch Industries sent out letters to 45,000 employees claiming that if President Obama and the Democrats win the 2012 election many employees “may suffer the consequences.”

Sadly, this is not a singular incident. David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, sent out a mass email to employees declaring that should Obama be re-elected layoffs would likely occur. In yet another example, the chief executive of ASG software sent out a similar email to staff.

The 1% is clearly trying to scare their employees into forfeiting their vote! It’s “Vote my way, or the highway.” Clearly if you are sending out letters and emails saying that if a certain candidate is elected you will start firing people, that is going to drastically sway the way a person is going to cast their ballot.

How is this legal? Can your boss tell you who to vote for? They only get away with this by using disclaimers, but the bottom line is that they are swaying votes through fear and intimidation.

No employer has the right to tell you who to vote for. Your vote is your voice. It is one thing for a CEO of a company to show their support for a particular candidate or funnel their millions into SuperPACs (thanks to Citizens United). But an employer does not have the right to threaten an employee with their job if they do not fall in line and vote the employer’s way.

We as Americans should not stand for this! Participating in our democracy, having our voices heard, is one of the most sacred rights we have. These employees need to know that we will not let their voices be silenced, we will not allow them to be intimidated, and we will stand together with them in November as they cast their own ballot for the candidate of their own choosing.

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Watch VPC's L.O.V.E. Music Video

The Voter Participation Center was able to get over 700,000 people registered to vote through their Let One Voice Emerge campaign.

The L.O.V.E. campaign created a music video designed to appeal to single women, people of color, and young people under 30. While these groups make up 53% of the eligible voting population, they currently make up 63% of the American population that is not registered to vote. The goal of L.O.V.E. is to work to create an electorate that is a more accurate reflection of our nation’s diverse culture and populace.

The music video features Fergie, Kate Walsh, Taye Diggs, Regina King, Seth Green, Lelah Hathaway, and other celebrities. Watch the video here.

The election is only six weeks away and the deadline for registering to vote is gaining on us. Current estimates suggest that over 73 million Americans are not registered to vote. Share the music video via your Twitter, Facebook, etc. and encourage your friends and family to register to vote for the upcoming election. Let’s work together to make sure that all voices get heard this November.

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The Republican Party wants to suppress your vote

Pennsylvania’s new voter-ID law seems to be creating more than a few headaches lately.

When a person has to stand in numerous lines, fill out multiple forms, and spend over four hours of their day to receive an ID that is only good for the sole-purpose of voting, there is a problem within our democracy.

Voter-ID laws are a trend occurring all over the nation in states controlled by Republican legislatures; including swing-states such as Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, and Wisconsin. They say that the new law will help protect against voter fraud. However, when allegations of voter fraud have been investigated, the numbers just do not seem to add up. In a major attempt by the Bush Administration to crack down on voter fraud between the years of 2002 to 2007, only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud out of the 300 million votes cast during that time. In the meantime, while Republicans beat their war drums against “big government spending,” the states that have implemented such laws will be spending a combined total of as much as $828 million over the next four years to have these laws implemented. This argument just lacks pure logical sense.

The reality is that state Republican legislatures are enacting a new form of “poll tax” on to groups who generally do not need or have a difficult time obtaining a new photo-ID. These groups (young voters, minorities, the poor, and the elderly) coincidentally enough, were what helped push Obama to victory in 2008. How odd that now these are the voices that Republicans seem to be attempting to suppress for the upcoming 2012 Election.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." This put an end to that era’s Jim Crowe Laws that dominated the polls within the Southern states and reinforced the ratification of the 15th Amendment.

These new laws are nothing more than a replacement to the laws that civil rights activists worked so hard to overthrow. They are taking away people’s rights to vote and suppressing the voices of the people. These states should be taken to court where, hopefully, these laws will be found unconstitutional.

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