Liveblog: Mid-day voting thread

Election watchdogs are reporting problems throughout the state. What’s been your experience? Check here for instant analysis, election updates and quirky campaign news.

10:48 a.m. – The National Republican Trust is finally dredging up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in an 11th-hour TV attack ad. That smear is now anchored by the McCain campaign supporting a last-minute coal industry assault Monday, trotting out a January San Francisco Chronicle interview in which Obama talked about a carbon cap-and-trade system, comparable to the successful market already in place in Europe.

Bringing up the clean coal debate in key coal-producing and battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, McCain suggested Obama will bankrupt the coal industry. The truth is both candidates support heavy investment in unproven clean-coal technologies like sequestration, but “clean coal” is really a misnomer. Coal remains the dirtiest and most highly polluting of the fossil fuels. Check out this story on Alternet.

Regardless, it will be years before the United State electrical grid can be weaned off coal, and Colorado, surprisingly, is one of the top coal-producing states — either seventh or eighth on the list, according to the Energy Information Administration and the American Coal Foundation.

Meanwhile, Golden-based Americans for American Energy, a conservative, pro-energy Astroturf group, also jumped into the fray Monday, issuing a wildly exaggerated release claiming Obama will bankrupt the coal industry and crash the American power grid. This is the same group that has been comparing conservationists to terrorists and suggesting concern for the environment is a “war on the poor.”

It remains to be seen if this 11th-hour shift in the energy debate will gain any traction with voters on Election Day.

David O. Williams

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10:58 a.m. – Our Washington Independent colleague, Spencer Ackerman, is reporting that Mass. Democrat Sen. John Kerry is on the short-list for secretary of state should Barack Obama win the presidency. Republican Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel is also under consideration.

Wendy Norris

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11:17 a.m. – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — also, incidentally, the Republican vice presidential nominee — cast her ballot “before the sun came up” at home in Wasilla, but she’s staying mum on her vote in the Alaska Senate race, pleading ballot secrecy, Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports.

Despite calling on Sen. Ted Stevens to resign after his conviction on corruption-related charges late last month, Palin declined to say who she voted for in the Alaska icon’s reelection contest.

“I am also exercising my right to privacy,” Palin said. “And I don’t have to tell anybody who I vote for. Nobody does. And that’s really cool about America, also.”

Palin’s running mate, John McCain, also voted Tuesday morning at home in Phoenix before departing for a last-minute campaign swing to Grand Junction and Albuquerque.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama cast his ballot at his neighborhood precinct on Chicago’s South Side along with his wife, Michelle, with their two daughters accompanying them.

Running mate Joe Biden voted Tuesday morning in Wilmington, Del., accompanied by his 91-year-old mother. The Biden clan — 36 strong — is heading to Chicago to wait out the returns with the Obamas.

Ernest Luning

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11:45 a.m. – Ill-informed voters should stay home, Gazette sez

The Colorado Springs Gazette, never one to shy from offering up smugly offensive editorials, has really outdone itself today, publishing a “pop quiz” to detract would-be voters from going to the polls. According to the editorial, only people who are savvy enough to pass the newspaper’s seemingly random quiz should go vote. Think we’re kidding? From the editorial:

Ill-informed voters are useful idiots for sinister politics. Ill-informed citizens who choose not to vote, by contrast, act in a responsible fashion. If you’re not certain whether you should vote today, take the following quiz:

• Do you know what the First Amendment protects??

• Do you know what the Second Amendment protects??

• Can you name the Secretary of State for the United States??

• Can you name the two Senators who represent your state??

• What obsolete Supreme Court case said African Americans were not citizens??

• Can you name two U.S. Supreme Court justices??

• What country does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rule??

• What seat are Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer competing for??

• Supporters of El Paso County question 1A would raise the sales tax by how much??

• Do union leaders support the so-called “right to work” amendment??

• Would the Colorado Civil Rights Amendment (46) establish affirmative action to give women and minorities state jobs?

If you can’t answer most of the above, with certainty, you are ill-informed. That does not mean you’re a bad person by any measure. It probably means you’re involved in meaningful tasks that distract you from current events. Those who can’t correctly answer all or most of the questions above, for whatever reason, are not prepared to vote today.

Elections serve this country well, but only when the electorate is knowledgeable of the likely causes and effects of their decisions. Well-informed voters are people who have studied their ballots, followed the news, and informed themselves about the workings of their communities, their country and the world. By voting, they make the country strong.

Ill-informed voters, by contrast, do themselves and their country a giant favor by respectfully declining to vote. It requires no apology, no explanation. It’s the noble, righteous and patriotic choice.

Cara DeGette

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12:00 p.m. – At Iowa Independent our counterpart Chase Martyn posted a great summary on Election Day get out the vote efforts. No eating bon bons or arugula water cress sandwiches just yet for the campaign teams.

Wendy Norris

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12:06 p.m. – MSNBC is reporting light Election Day turnout in Colorado. Arapahoe County Clerk & Recorder Nancy Doty attributes it to the unprecedented flood of mail-in and absentee ballots.

Wendy Norris

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12:10 p.m. – Denver has fallen slightly short of its goal for recruiting at least one bilingual poll worker for all 185 precincts in the county on Election Day — a goal that went above and beyond federal requirements. It’s not known at the moment exactly how close the city got to the number.

Federal law requires that 133 out of the 185 voting precincts have bilingual poll workers available, and city officials are clear to state that they will have no problem with that requirement. The extra bilingual poll workers recruited this year will now be sent to precincts that are determined to be in need of them the most.

Erin Rosa

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12:19 p.m. – A Web site that tracks and aggregates polls moved Colorado from “lean Obama” to “safe Obama” on Tuesday, based on two polls released on the day before the election. Pollster.com points to a FOX News-Rasmussen poll conducted Nov. 2 that gives Barack Obama a 4-point lead, 51-47, over John McCain, and a YouGov/Polimetrix survey that shows Obama with a 15-point lead, running ahead of McCain 55-40.

Libertarian candidate Bob Barr scored 1 percent in the FOX-Rasmussen poll. Third party candidates Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney didn’t register.

The YouGov/Polimetrix results also showed Democratic Senate candidate Mark Udall running 51-36 ahead of his Republican opponent, Bob Schaffer.

The FOX-Rasmussen poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The YouGov/Plimetrix survey sampled 999 registered voters. The margin of error for a 400-voter sample is 7 percentage points, the polling outfit reported.

Ernest Luning

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12:49 p.m. – McCain whipping Grand Junction rally attendees into a frenzy with usual stump speech delivered with a little more vim and vigor. Scarborough calls it a “wow speech” that’s a month too late.

Wendy Norris

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12:52 p.m. – Media Matters alert on incorrect poll closing time graphic displayed on MSNBC.

During MSNBC Live’s Election Day coverage, MSNBC continually aired graphics that purported to show “POLL CLOSING” times for each state. But in states that cross over time zones, the times listed in the graphics reflected the western-most time zone in the state, in which polls close an hour later than the rest of the state. Thus, people watching MSNBC in the eastern portion of some states could be left with the impression that local polls would be open for an hour after they actually close.

Wendy Norris

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12:55 p.m. – Scarborough called McCain speech in Grand Junction top two or three in his entire campaign, and while it was a bit more fiery, much of the content was rehash, including sparking the “drill here, drill now” chant popular with some Western Slope constituents.

To the north and east in Garfield County, natural-gas drilling has polarized voters, firing up Democrats who have been also-rans in county commissioner races since the 1980s but have a real shot today. The Aspen Daily News is reporting the number of registered Dems is rapidly closing in on Republicans and Independents in the traditionally conservative county.

The Garfield County clerk is saying she’ll likely have a final vote tally by 1 a.m., due mostly to early voting, and that’s good compared to the last few elections, when it took until well into the following day.

David O. Williams

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1:05 p.m. – There are some benefits to living in a town mostly made up of voluntarily disenfranchised voters (second, third and fourth homeowners). It only took a half hour to vote in Vail this morning, a town of under 5,000 permanent residents where 70 percent of the homes are owned by out-of-town residents. And some of those McMansions will no doubt be going on the market if Wall Street continues to crater and a few more CEO indictments are handed down.

Most of the voters in line were young resort workers who live in “affordable” workplace housing, and one longtime election judge said Vail’s only polling place was as busy as she had seen it in her 30-plus years of volunteering. The Eagle County clerk was predicting close to 100 percent turnout for active voters.

A Republican former town councilman said he had crossed over and voted Democrat on at least half of the lengthy ballot, perhaps an indication of where surrounding Eagle County (registered Democrats recently surpassed Republicans for the first time in recent memory) was leaning.

A forecast foot of snow was expected to hold off until well after the polls close at 7 p.m. A winter storm warning for the Central Rockies kicks in at midnight, meaning mountain residents were possibly looking at both a new president and a powder day on Wednesday.

David O. Williams

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1:23 p.m. – Outlook sunny — so far — in Colorado Springs

In downtown Colorado Springs, the voting line is pretty reasonable at Centennial Hall. Maybe 40 people are currently lined up in the lobby, and it has not stretched out the door. Ditto for the Hillside Community Center in southeast Colorado Springs. The parking lot has cars, but there is plenty of parking.

Colorado Springs has historically been a Republican stronghold, and this year Democrats have been highly critical of the Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink, a Republican who has under fire for a myriad of voter-related actions.

Cara DeGette

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1:37 p.m. – Similar to the Colorado Spring Gazette “pop quiz” on voter-worthiness (see above item), a columnist for the Vail Daily, Richard Carnes, urged people who were “too stupid” to know the issues not to vote. His column ran under the charming headline, “If ignorant of issues, don’t vote in Eagle County.” How about reading the paper and getting educated, is that a possibility?

David O. Williams

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1:53 p.m. – Long lines were reported at the polling place at Colorado College in Colorado Springs earlier this morning, but things seem to have evened out — at least for now. The slowdown seems to have been due to the fact that they only had one election judge checking everyone in.

As state Sen. John Morse pointed out earlier by way of a simple math exercise, if one person is checking each voter in, and it takes a minute, then that means a 100-minute wait to vote if 100 people show up at the same time. Not a problem for the middle of the day, but later, when lots of voters are expected to start flooding the polls, well, Morse at least is hoping that more than one sign-in judge is there to greet them.

Cara DeGette

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2:00 p.m. – Used to be, a voter could get a stiff shot of whiskey after casting a ballot — for the right candidate. That’s illegal these days, but there are still plenty of rewards — other than the civic ones — for voting. Flash the snappy “I Voted” sticker nationwide today for a free brewed coffee at Starbucks, a free scoop of ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s, or (and!) a free donut at Krispy Kreme.

Homegrown coffee purveyor the Village Roaster — with stores at West Alameda Avenue and South Garrison Street, and in the shops adjacent to Lakewood’s city hall — is offering a free coffee or equivalent discount on fancier drinks to voters on Election Day.

Any other businesses offering incentives for voting? Describe the deals in the comments below and we’ll help spread the word.

Ernest Luning

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