Tri-State Election Scene

Tri-State Polling hours: 6am-9pm in NY; 6am-8pm in NJ/CT
November 4, 2008 2:47:37 PM PST
Voting is in full swing throughout the tri-state area. Voters will be able to cast their ballots in new york, until 9:00 p.m. In New Jersey and Connecticut, they will close an hour earlier -- at 8-p-m.

A record number of voters are expected today-- and that will mean long lines-- and possibly some problems. These voters are casting their ballots in Roosevelt, Long Island.


NYC residents flock to polls

NEW YORK (AP) - Voters continue to flock to the polls in New York City.

Jade Harris, a 32-year-old software salesperson, was among more than 200 voters lined up at midday Tuesday in Harlem. Says the Barack Obama supporter: "I've been standing in the same 5 feet of space for probably 40 minutes."

At a different Harlem polling site, Hoyt Manning, a Democrat, voted for John McCain, primarily because he opposes abortion. The cab driver also cited the economy. Says Manning: "I'm 70, and I still have to work because we're losing our pension money."

In Times Square, Roger Clark showed up in his wheelchair, in the dark, at 5:45 a.m. at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School.

Says the Obama supporter: "I never thought I would live to see this. It's a miracle."

Polls close in New Yor at 9 p.m.

High turnout, long lines meet NJ voters

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Enthusiasm for Tuesday's history-making election helped many New Jersey voters endure long lines amid reports of scattered voting problems as record numbers headed to the polls.

The anticipated high turnout even affected Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who read a newspaper while he waited in line outside his precinct in Hoboken.

A record 5.4 million New Jersey residents are registered to vote. Seventy-three percent turned out for the last presidential election.

Scattered voting machine problems and early errors by new poll workers were reported around the state.

Burlington County Superintendent of Elections Joanne Nyikita said things were running smoothly after earlier problems forced some voters in Willingboro to use paper ballots due to a poll worker's unfamiliarity with how to properly activate the machines.

In Essex County, the Star-Ledger of Newark reported voters were told to return later in the day after two voting machines malfunctioned at a polling place near the campus of Rutgers-Newark.

Lines formed early at Mount Hebron Middle School in Montclair, about 12 miles west of Manhattan. Shortly after 6 a.m., one of the voting machines broke down and voters switched to paper ballots. It was repaired by 8 a.m. and normal electronic balloting resumed.

The mood was upbeat on an unseasonably warm morning, and many voters brought their school-aged children along, explaining the process and the importance of voting as they stood in line.

Volunteers sold homemade baked goods and hot coffee in the hallway just outside the gymnasium where voting takes place.

In Cliffside Park, Sen. Frank Lautenberg cast his vote at about 10:30 a.m. at the Epiphany Elementary School with several of his children and grandchildren in tow.

Long lines at many polling stations gave way to a more even flow of voters by midmorning, although lines still continued as long as 45 minutes in Paterson and elsewhere.

Highway medians across the state were a sea of campaign signs.

Some voters emerging from the polls said there seemed to be some confusion among first-time voters as to what ward or voting district they lived in, but that poll greeters were helping to sort things out.

Maribell Robles, 43, of Passaic, cast a vote for Barack Obama Monday morning, saying all the candidates had made a lot of promises, but the Democratic candidate seemed more believable.

"The proof is in the pudding," Robles said. "Anybody can make pudding, but let's see who makes it taste better."

Virginia Farfan, a 60-year-old factory worker who emigrated from Peru to Passaic, cast her vote for Obama as a naturalized U.S.

citizen. Farfan said her 21-year-old son would cast his first presidential vote later in the day.

Jack Mayo, 47, of Clifton, was driving around town with McCain-Palin signs prominently displayed on his red pickup truck.

"I like a lot of McCain's history, and I think he's better suited to the job," Mayo said. Mayo, who works as a paramedic in Hackensack, said he's a registered Independent. "I go for who I like, not because of what party they're in," he said.

Supporters of both candidates were focusing their attention on getting people to the polls Monday.

Samer Khalaf, 39, of Paramus, co-chair of the New Jersey Arab-American Democratic Caucus, was busy organizing a get-out-the-vote effort Tuesday among Arab-Americans.

"I don't want to risk sounding overconfident, but I don't think we risk losing the state," Khalaf said of the Democratic vote in New Jersey. "What we're concerned about is to make sure it's smooth sailing at the polls."

Polls close in New Jersey at 8 p.m.

Connecticut polls open for possible record turnout

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut election officials predicted a record turnout Tuesday as voters flooded the polls beginning early in the morning to cast ballots for president, Congress and the state General Assembly.

The presidential race is getting the most attention after a historic two-year campaign.

Democrat Barack Obama, the first-term Illinois senator who is bidding to become the nation's first black president, leads in most national polls. He's facing Republican John McCain, the 26-year Arizona senator whose mettle was tested during 5½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Neither candidate campaigned in Connecticut since before the state primary, as polls show Obama with a sizable lead in the state.

The Connecticut secretary of state's office reported Tuesday morning that many voters were having to wait 40 minutes or longer to cast their ballots, and problems were reported with some optical scan voting machines in a few towns.

Election officials were looking into reports of machine problems in West Hartford, Simsbury, Avon and some locations in Fairfield County, said Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. Harris said he didn't immediately know what all the problems were, but some apparently involved ballots getting jammed in the machines.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m., although state law allows anyone in line at 8 p.m. be allowed to cast ballots. The weather is expected to be relatively mild, and no rain is in the forecast.

Bysiewicz said she expects as many as 90 percent of state voters will cast ballots. Some 300,000 new voters have registered since the first the year, pushing voter rolls to the highest in Connecticut history at nearly 2.1 million.

In the 2004 presidential election, nearly 79 percent of eligible voters in Connecticut went to the polls.

Charles Foley of Manchester said he voted Tuesday morning for McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, because he is against abortion.

"If you are pro-life, a lot of other issues are resolved," said Foley, 61. "I'm hoping they (McCain and Palin) pull off the upset. I hope Americans wake up. They are waking up all over the country."

Foley said he didn't trust Obama because "he's a smooth talker."

All five members of Connecticut's U.S. House delegation are seeking re-election. Drawing national attention is the campaign in the 4th Congressional District, where recent polls show incumbent Republican Christopher Shays in a close race with Democrat Jim Himes.

Shays is his 11th full term and was the only New England Republican to withstand the Democrat sweep of 2006. Himes is a Greenwich businessman and member of the Greenwich town finance board.

On the state level, Democrats are hoping to win enough seats in the General Assembly to have a veto-proof majority in both the House and Senate. Democrats hold a 107-44 advantage in the House, enough to override any vetoes by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, but one vote shy of the two-thirds majority in the Senate with a 23-13 advantage.

This marks the first year that legislative candidates can tap into public funds to finance their campaigns, receiving $25,000 for a House race and $85,000 for a Senate race, as long as they raise a certain amount in small donations.

Of the 343 candidates running in year's legislative elections, including third party candidates, 236 received grants. Some are still participating in the program and adhering to the spending limits, but did not accept money because they're running unopposed.

There are two statewide questions on the ballot in Connecticut.

One asks if people whose 18th birthday falls between primary and general elections should be allowed to vote in the primary. The other, which is drawing the most attention, asks if the state should hold a constitutional convention for the first time since 1965.

If voters say yes to the second question, delegates will be appointed by the state General Assembly and given the chance to propose any changes to the Connecticut Constitution, which provides the framework for all branches of state government. Any proposed changes would then go to a statewide vote.

Proponents want to change the constitution to allow citizens the opportunity to bypass the legislature and petition for changes in state law through direct ballot initiatives.

Opponents warn that a constitutional convention could change anything and everything in the constitution, including laws on abortion or gay marriage.

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