A sea of honks blanketed the soundscape outside the Obama headquarters in Nob Hill. The horns were meant to show solidarity with the men and women who have helped the Obama campaign get out the vote.
Volunteer Linda Tripp has been helping Obama win New Mexico since September. It's the first campaign she's ever worked for. "There's lots of good energy and great people working for a common cause," Tripp says. "We're very hopeful."
Tripp says volunteers have gotten people registered, driven folks to the polls and helped them find early voting sites. There are also volunteers working as "comfort captains" who hand out water and snacks to those waiting to cast their ballots. "We're interested in keeping people in line and making sure they vote," Tripp explains.
All the work is almost over, and now all Tripp can do is wait.
1) To recycle a term from the last election cycle, the man is a flip-flopper. Laws and acts that he helped write, he now says he wouldn't vote for. Of course, he has every right to change his mind. But the thing is, these were good things he did! These were the things that got him labeled a "maverick." But now that they can too closely align him with congressional liberals, he's singing a new song. I don't care if my president is wrong sometimes. We're all wrong sometimes. I just want him to be man enough to stand up and stand by his words and his actions.
2) The economy is awful. You know it. I know it. My uncle is a plumber in New York. I asked how much money he made. He told me if he tells me, I can't tell anyone. So I can't tell you. But I can tell you that Joe the Plumber is probably dipping his plunger into something besides toilets if he's making the kind of money that would earn him higher taxes under Obama's plan. Under Obama's tax plan, the only people who get taxed more are the ones making more than $250,000 a year. That's a lot of plumbing. Lets say you make, oh, $38,000 a year. Under Obama, you're going to pay $892 less in taxes. Under McCain, you'll be paying $113 less. Yup. See for yourselves. It's all over the internets. Lots of people are concerned that while McCain wants to cut estate tax, Obama wants to raise it. That's true. On estates worth more than $3.5 million. How many $3.5 million homes do we have in New Mexico? Heck, how many $3.5 million homes do we have in America? And, assuming you have a $3.5 million home, you probably have more money that all the people who don't. Which means that you should pay more taxes. Why, you ask? Well, my wealthy estate-owning friend, because taxes are supposed to be a percentage, not a straight cut down the line.
I’m on a conference call as we speak with those elections protectors again (including former Alibi editor Steven Robert Allen, who now works for Common Cause).
There are reports coming in from around the state—in particular in Roswell—of misinformation making its way through communities. Some voters were incorrectly informed that Election Day is Nov. 5. This is not uncommon countrywide and has happened in previous elections.
But I restate: Today is the only day you can vote, regardless of political affiliation. Get in line by 7 p.m. If you wanted an absentee ballot but didn’t get one in the mail, you have to go to the polls today. Absentee ballots were due a couple days ago. You cannot mail them today.
All of my UNM classes were canceled today. Instead of catching up on homework, buying some beer and celebrating with others over the day off, I stuck around campus and observed the busiest day I’ve seen at UNM since the first week of school. “I had one class but decided to hang out and watch all the commotion,” says UNM student David Whatley. Booths are still set up with their political parties raised high like battle standards. “I’ll just be happy after today when the election is over and we can really focus on our country’s issues rather than divide ourselves over who we want for the next president,” says Whatley.
I’ve been asked that question at three separate locations today—maybe more. Upon entering Santa Fe this morning to act as the Alibi’s Santa Fe elections correspondent, I realized the batteries in my voice recorder had died. Just one of many electronic difficulties I’ve encountered today.
With only a short 20 minutes to get across town for the Udall photo-op, I dropped in a Walgreens to get some AAA-batteries and a few Sharpies (you’ll see why in another blog post later today).
“Have you voted?” a chipper lady asked as I bee-lined for the entryway.
“Of course,” I replied without pause, continuing into the store.
After successfully purchasing said needed goods, I walked out and stopped to ask the get-out-the-vote greeters a few questions. Bunny Lichtenstein and her husband, Paul, have never been so active in a campaign, she said. “We’ve been canvassing every Saturday for weeks.” Today, they and many other Sen. Barack Obama supporters would be around Santa Fe reminding people to vote, offering rides to polling places and giving out precinct information.
I asked if she’d give a ride to a McCain supporter and she said, “No,” with a laugh. “I don’t know what we do about a McCain voter,” she said. It was clear she never thought about the prospect of taking anyone but an Obama supporter to the polls. It just never crossed her mind.
Just then, a man with a “Proud to Vote” sticker and an American flag lapel pin walked out of Walgreens. “Have you voted?” Mr. Lichtenstein asked the man.
“Yup, but not for that guy,” the man replied as he pointed to a sticker on Bunny’s jacket.
“Well, just as long as you voted,” Bunny said, trying to cut the awkward tension.
“Oh, give it up,” the man said and continued to his car.
“What did that mean?” Bunny asked me. “Am I just naive, cause I don’t know what he means.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, ma’am, I said, unsure what to tell her. “Good luck today and keep the energy up.” I waved and walked away.
This Udall button, worn by Marissa Padilla from Tom Udall for U.S. Senate, is from Mo Udall's campaign for president in the ’70s. Mo (short for Morris) Udall is Tom Udall's uncle and is the father of Mark Udall, who is running for U.S. Senate in Colorado. Mo is Stewart Udall's brother.
DATELINE: Santa Fe—After a hearty breakfast of steel-cut oats and an omelet, Rep. Tom Udall rolled up to Atalaya Elementary School in his blue Toyota Prius Hybrid with his father, former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, and wife, Jill Cooper Udall, to do their civic duty. With no lines, it was an easy saunter to the check-in table where the Udalls gave their names and got their ballots. Papa Udall, who is legally blind, was aided by Mrs. Udall and wasn’t afraid to say he was voting for all the bond issues—by his own admission, he’s a sucker for bonds.
Rep. Udall filled out his ballot from behind a black voter booth, his signature cowboy boots visible bellow the table. He placed his filled-out ballot in the scanner with a smile and vocalized his appreciation for getting to see a record of his vote on the printed receipt. A few friends and politically starstruck voters stopped the congressman to shake his hand and wish him good luck on Election Day, some going so far as to call him “Senator.”
The Udall family
In his trademark humble style, Rep. Udall greeted his supporters graciously and asserted his belief that this election is one of the most important ever in the country as well as for New Mexico. He says his campaign is exhilarated by Election Day, and New Mexicans are, too. “People out there are energized, they’re excited and they’re really going to get out to vote,” he said.
Udall watches his votes get tallied.
To those unsure about heading to the polls, Udall urged them voice their opinion. “The big issues that face us have to do with the economics and with how the middle class is doing,” he said. Affordable health care, the war in Iraq and the reform of No Child Left Behind are just a few issues Udall said will be tackled under the new administration and legislative session. “There are so many things that impact people’s lives, we’ve got to have them get out to vote and express an opinion on all these issues.”
In his campaign leading up to today’s election, Rep. Udall says he learned just how much the working class and working families of New Mexico are hurting. If elected a U.S. senator today, Udall plans get back to Washington and get to work. “The first thing I want to do is get back there and put together an economic recovery package that’s going to move us in the direction of building back and growing our economy,” he said.
Udall’s wife and father
But Election Day isn’t over, and there are still votes to be cast and ballots to be counted. Rep. Udall will travel between his home in Santa Fe and the Democratic Party headquarters in Albuquerque for the duration of the day. Tomorrow morning, he’s up early for a radio interview at 6:30 a.m. No rest for the elected, it seems.
If you don’t know where your voting location is, use this handy Google map to figure it out. You just type in the address you’re registered with, and it will show you where to go. I tried it out, and it worked for me.
Election protection advocates held a conference call to talk about what they’re on the lookout for today. Steve Allen, former Alibi editor and director of Common Cause, was one of the advocates.
Carter Bundy of Election Protection and the New Mexico Federation of Labor spoke about potential concerns in Bernalillo County.
“Really, there are no systemic problems,” he says. “What tends to be happening is that you have several thousand, essentially, day laborers, and no matter how good the training is, people are going to get confused about how far people are allowed to be from a certain polling locations and issues like that.”
Other than a couple of tabulator machine malfunctions, he says, there aren’t any problems that would stop people from voting. “I think the election is going fairly well so far,” he adds.
Early this morning at the Grant Middle School polling location, there was a voter ID complaint. According to Bundy, poll workers were requiring physical identification from every voter at that polling place.
If you already voted in a previous election cycle, you only have to give your name, address and year of birth to vote. There is a physical ID requirement for first-time voters who registered by mail.
“The clerk’s office is doing a good job of responding to the issues that come up,” Bundy says.
There will be another update from the elections protectors around 4 p.m.
The Journal arrived this morning in a plastic bag with the text "Defend Freedom. Defeat Obama" emblazoned on one side. Apparently, the NRA, who paid for the ad, believes Barack Obama will ultimately try his damnedest to rob us all of our second amendment right to keep and bear arms, leaving us defenseless in the event of terrorist attack and/or plague of locusts.
As a gun owner and holder of a concealed carry license in the state of New Mexico, I have every confidence that my H&K 9 mil. will remain safely and legally in its holster throughout the duration of the upcoming presidential term. Any other gun owners for Obama?
Keep an eye out for CD1 candidate Martin Heinrich (who the Alibi endorsed) on the streets today—he or one of his volunteers might hand you a sopaipilla. In what may be one of the most brilliant marketing strategies in a political campaign to date, Heinrich's folks rented three sopaipilla trucks and are making the rounds, offering a cup of joe to boot.
I spoke with Heinrich about an hour ago and at least one of his pastry ambassadors was on its way to the South Valley. The candidate said the day was off to a good start—more than 500 people arrived in a coordinated kick-off to walk neighborhoods this morning, reminding people to vote (the effort was organized by the Heinrich, Tom Udall and Barack Obama camps). As we've already heard, lines are short today, and Heinrich's campaign has received estimates that more than 50 percent of the vote this season will have come from early and absentee ballots.
• Ate a banana for breakfast. Then a bagel at 10 a.m., then a sandwich at 1 p.m. (he said he's surrounded by food these days at various campaign stations). He can't wait to get back to only three meals a day.
• Voted early on Oct. 30, and the line went quickly and smoothly.
• Said his favorite and worst campaign moment are one and the same: his chair falling off the stage and a firefighter catching him before he hit the ground.
• Said if he wins, tomorrow he'll wake up early and start making phone calls and getting organized. If he doesn't, he'll sleep in.
When asked if he's optimistic based on the poll numbers, Heinrich said "cautiously," and "there's only one poll that matters."
I'm thinking Lee L. Mercer Jr. has got a real shot at it this year. How can you not love a Democratic Presidential candidate who says on his own web site that "I was ordered to create and or invent by the United States Army that is now intact regulating the United States Government protecting it through Military Intelligence Computerization Management a new Discipline I invented and the Administration of Criminal Law Laws across the board."
Let's see the Republicans figure that out, much less draft an ad campaign countering it. "Lee L. Mercer says he was ordered to create and or invent by the United States ... Wait. What?"
The lawn outside the McCain Campaign Headquarters on 5643 Jefferson NE was flooded with kids. The youths ate volunteer-provided food and played with little John McCain dolls, which very honestly depicted Sen. McCain's hairline. Inside, dozens of volunteers manned phones, calling people who had been identified as likely to vote for McCain. Volunteer Barry Krakow says children as young as 7 were making phone calls on behalf of the campaign. “It's something I encourage parents to get their kids involved in," Krakow says. "It's a real-life civics lesson."
Krakow says he hopes volunteers young and old can reach tens of thousands of New Mexicans today before the polls close at 7 p.m.