Voting For President Begins In Pivotal Ohio

In the state that may again determine the presidency, voters started casting ballots Tuesday as Barack Obama struggles to thwart a John McCain victory in Ohio four years after it tipped the election to President Bush.

Both candidates visit often while spending millions of dollars flooding TV and radio with advertisements, mailboxes with literature and even voice mail with automated phone calls to get supporters to the polls, particularly during the one-week window in which people can register and vote in one swoop.

Early participation appeared light; officials in the state's largest counties that are home to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton each reported several hundred ballots cast by afternoon. Many of those who voted cited convenience.

"I wanted to avoid the traffic and the people," said Charlene Glass, 49, of Cleveland Heights. A first-time voter, she backed Obama and expressed her enthusiasm for a black candidate. In Dayton, Terri Bell, 49, chose McCain because of his experience and his military service. "I have a lot on my plate. I wanted to do this early," she said.

At stake: 20 electoral votes — perhaps, the presidency itself.

Most recent state polls show a dead heat; others give McCain an edge. National surveys show Obama slightly ahead if not more. The disparity underscores the difficulty Obama is having in closing the deal in this pivotal state. He's a first-term senator from Chicago with a liberal voting record and would be the country's first black president.

In all, 270 electoral votes are needed for victory.

Ohio is crucial to McCain's electoral strategy. Bush narrowly won the state, and a loss for McCain here would be very difficult to make up with victories elsewhere given that the political landscape favors Democrats and several other key states are tilting toward Obama.

Obama, however, now leads McCain in enough other states Bush won in 2004 that he could lose Ohio and still reach the 18 electoral votes he would need if he carries all the states Democrat John Kerry did in 2004. Still, winning Ohio itself could do the trick.

Every factor is at play in Ohio. Thus, every question will be tested.

Among them: Can Republican McCain overcome his links to the deeply unpopular Bush and a weakened state party and prevail in a state that suffered large losses of manufacturing jobs and large numbers of Iraq war deaths? Can Democrat Obama overcome voter concerns about his voting record and race among the many blue-collar workers in this culturally conservative, deeply divided state?

Obama got shellacked here by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary: She carried 83 of 88 counties as white, working-class voters flocked to her economic populist message. Therefore, Obama is copying Gov. Ted Strickland and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrats who went into Republican areas and boosted turnout to narrow GOP margins.

"Democrats too often have forgotten about places like this," said former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, an Obama supporter who recently met with some two dozen rural voters in London in western Ohio. "They have forgotten about small-town America, rural America, agricultural America and taken it for granted that we're going to vote the other way."

Linda Ward, a nurse from western Ohio, has tried to persuade others to take a critical look at McCain but hasn't had much luck. "Not my neighbors, not my friends. This area is a very conservative one," she said.

Voters like Diane Ferguson, a nursing home director in southeast Ohio, typify Obama's troubles. She says she likes Obama but isn't sure she can vote for him. She's troubled by his early resistance to wearing a flag pin, his race and a resume that looks thin to her.

"It's a hard decision," she said. "I don't know if we're ready for that one."

Aware of such skepticism, Obama's campaign is using its financial and organizational muscle to boost turnout among his core supporters — blacks and the youth. His campaign long planned for this early voting period and organized car pools from college campuses to early voting sites across the state.

Independent groups seeking to increase poor and minority participation also transported voters from places like homeless shelters, halfway houses and soup kitchens.

"We've had mediocre response," Matt Stone, an organizer of the group Vote from Home, said. "We hope the effort will snowball over seven days as people talk about it."

Outside the Franklin County Veterans Memorial in Columbus, Republican lawyers apparently concerned about voter fraud snapped photographs of vehicle license plates.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court and two federal judges upheld the ruling by Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that allows new voters to register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day from Tuesday through Oct. 6. Republicans argued that Ohio law requires voters to be registered for 30 days before they cast an absentee ballot.

The Ohio GOP asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Tuesday either to stop same-day voting or require elections official to separate those ballots so the registrations can be verified. But Brunner already has instructed election officials to segregate those ballots and verify the registrations before counting them. A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court denied the request later in the day.

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  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Oct 3, 2008 at 07:35 AM
    Fox News is the best news on television. While it should not be the only place you get your news, it is definitely the only place to get TV news. It is the only network that consistently gives both sides of the argument. Both conservative and liberal commentators have opposing views aired on their shows, while the straight news is not tainted with the reporter's personal opinion. For all you libs that hate Fox, Shepherd Smith is a lib, and he reports straight news on his show. There are others, but he is a Prime Time example. He is up against the 'Big 3' at 7:00 pm....who are obviously leaning if not blatantly in the Left's camp. He just reports the news...end of story.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Oct 1, 2008 at 10:40 AM
    Red State you mentioned the sin word to the liberals, "Fox News". Remember, the libs cannot handle the truth. I think you should apologize as you probably have offended someone. We are supposed to be spewing garbage from our mouths? I guess if you say that facts are garbage then someone has lost their way in society. Voter fraud has always been a problem with democrats as history has demonstrated even during Kerry votes. I understand a lot of deceased people voted for Kerry and he still lost. I hope you remember that story. Now with the polls tight when Kerry ran against Bush he was 7% higher than Bush. So here kitty kitty, come get your num, nums.
  • by Red State Location: Washington Co. on Oct 1, 2008 at 09:11 AM
    As usual, VBush and Steve get it right. Obama funnelled money from the Woods Foundation and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to ACORN. (from National Review Online) ACORN registered 1,800 new voters in Washington. With the exception of six, all of the names submitted were fake. The secretary of state called it the “worst case of election fraud in our state’s history.” As Fox News reported: “The ACORN workers told state investigators that they went to the Seattle public library, sat at a table and filled out the voter registration forms. They made up names, addresses, and Social Security numbers and in some cases plucked names from the phone book. One worker said it was a lot of hard work making up all those names and another said he would sit at home, smoke marijuana and fill out the forms.” His career up until now has been about building the network to push him into the White House because so many people are afraid of being called racist if they disagree with him. Shameful!
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Oct 1, 2008 at 08:19 AM
    Steve; Absolutely! I wonder how close the election would actually be if it weren't for all of those EXTRA efforts conducted by the Democrats. Republicans don't do this. It surely says a lot about the difference in the type of people in each party. One is the 'bird seed' crowd looking for the easy way, and the other is the 'self reliant' crowd. We get ourselves registered, haul ourselves to the polls and vote, etc. I'll take a stand with the self reliant crowd any day over the 'do it for me' crowd because I am too lazy to take care of my own business.
  • by 5678 Location: nc on Oct 1, 2008 at 07:37 AM
    whoever kitty is, you need to wake up, the democrats are just as bad. Obama is all talk and no action!!!!!
  • by Steve Location: Kinston on Oct 1, 2008 at 07:34 AM
    Yo, VBush---Have you noticed that every liberal posting is short on substance, long on B.S. As to this article, I am very sure that the election will be rife with inaccuracies and corruption. The democrats have to devise a plan to fall back on in case they lose the election(s). Hanging chads are out, they have already used that one. Every republican victory is because the GOP rigged the elections. It becomes very tiring having to hear their whining EVERY election cycle. What happened to the time when people made an effort to go to the polls and perform their civic duty? Now the dumbocrats are picking them up, feeding them, and even opening polling places in the housing projects and churches to make it easy to vote, and they still will not show up. It is a sickening spectacle to behold.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Oct 1, 2008 at 06:35 AM
    I guess Kitty has seen the latest polls and is getting giddy at the possibility of a President Obama. But......we aren't 'spewing garbage' it is true. If Obama wins, then when they break down and tabulate the statistics and demographics of the election you will see that WE were RIGHT.
  • by Kitty on Oct 1, 2008 at 06:04 AM
    How long are you republicans going to wast your time spewing garbage from your mouth? Just sit back and relax everything is looking good.
  • by Devil Dog Location: New Bern on Oct 1, 2008 at 05:42 AM
    To VBush..Right on brother..People need to pay attention to a group called ACORN. A group of left wing misfits trying to steal our Democracy. After the possible election of OBAMA, and his inauguration of the SOCIALIST Party(DEMS),it should get real interesting. If you think their is GRIDLOCK now in CONGRESS,you ain't seen nothing yet. All those that bashed BUSH, better be wearing asbestos suits. Get more birdseed (freebies) ready as more will seek seats at the trough.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Oct 1, 2008 at 04:09 AM
    The 4th paragraph says exactly what I have said since the beginning....A 49 YEAR OLD FIRST TIME VOTER SUPPORTING OBAMA. There are two groups that could potentially put Obama over the top, blacks in large number that have NEVER voted in their lives until now, and the young college mush heads that probably wouldn't have voted had their not been a minority on the ticket. The older blacks that are 'first time voters' are only voting because he is black, and the young college crowd that somehow think they are 'righting' some sort of social injustice because we have never elected a black President. Neither group really understand the issues, they are simply voting because he is black. If enough of both groups actually make it to the polls and vote, it could be what puts him over state by state. Note to the Editor: There is nothing wrong with this post per 'your rules' so don't dump it.

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