This morning I’m driving my wife over to the Charles Town (WV) Courthouse so she can cast her early vote for Obama. My son and I have been over there to vote already, but this is the first opportunity Elly has had outside of her teaching schedule. The fact that West Virginia has early voting is something we are very happy about… it gives us a chance to put in some campaign time on election day supporting others in getting out the Obama vote.
You may know, however, that WV is one of the states which has had some polling place problems with computerized voting machines switching votes from Obama to McCain. We are in Jefferson County which uses a printed ballot that is then scanned, but in Martinsburg, right next door to us and part of Berklee County, they have already reported machines that are switching votes. It is interesting that ALL of the vote switches using the ES&S machines are from Democrat to Republican… and it is great that due to early voting these problems are being documented and broadcast through the National media, making the voters even more aware of possible voter fraud happening.
If one looks at newspaper coverage across the country, it looks like the 33 or so states with early voting are trending toward Obama. This from the LA Times, for instance:
A surprise is the makeup of the early voters, election experts said. In past campaign seasons, Republicans have used early voting to their advantage, mobilizing a slice of the electorate that typically skews their way.
Yet a look at voters in a handful of crucial states suggests that Obama is turning out his base in numbers that surpass those of Republican John McCain.
“Historically, we’ve seen that early voters are older, they tend to be white, have higher incomes and are better educated,” said Paul Gronke, director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, Ore.
“And that group of people tends to trend Republican. Now we have a mirror image in this campaign.”
On the day I voted, over a week ago, the line of people was distinctly older… and were mostly Democrats from what I could determine. But I voted while most young people were either working or in school (we are in a heavy college area), so I will be interested to see what the Saturday turnout is.
I realize that West Virginia looks like it is in McCain’s pocket (although our Democratic Governor and Senator Jay Rockefeller lead in their respective polls) when it comes to the election. I am afraid that is because of a 90%+ white voter registration (with a predominantly older perspective) and some unfortunate racial tinges which have been identified in the press. Given a poll-defying push in early voting, and a minor miracle somewhere, it is possible that Obama could win here… but it is doubtful. There is still reason for hope.
I am counting, however, on the trends in the rest of the country. If you can get out and vote early, I would encourage you to do so.