It’s arrived: Election Day 2012. All day, we’ll be keeping tabs on the polls here in Charlottesville, in Virginia, and beyond, so stick with us.
11:30pm: Four more years
Despite too-close-to-call situations in Virginia and Florida, NBC, CNN, ABC, and Fox are all calling it: Obama wins. And we’re calling it a night!
11:20pm: The other race
NBC beats all other news outlets by being the first to call the election. They’re giving it to Obama.
11:15pm: Kaine wins Virginia Senate seat
With 90 percent of Virginia precincts reporting, Republican George Allen has officially conceded to Democrat Tim Kaine in the Virginia Senate race. Kaine currently has 51.04 percent of the vote, Allen 48.76 percent.
Human Rights Campaign has sent out the following e-mail with statement from President Chad Griffin:
“Congratulations to Senator-elect Kaine on his hard-fought victory tonight. Virginia has entrusted this seat to a true advocate for equality and inclusion, and we’re enthusiastic to begin working with Senator-elect Kaine and his team on issues important to LGBT people across the country.”
Here’s a thing: With 88.5% of Virginia precincts reporting just after 11pm, Constitution Party candidate and thorn in the side of Republicans Virgil Goode has almost enough votes (11,880) to make up the difference between Obama’s (1,522,682) and Romney’s (1,535,064) total tallies.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has more than double Virgil’s upset potential at this point, though, with 25,625 votes.
10:55: Calling all possible Latinos
Virginia remains very, very (very) close, but even the jump-the-gun major media outlets aren’t projecting a win here for either presidential candidate, so while we wait, we’ll fill you in on an interesting local tidbit we came across today. As we wrote earlier, Politico ran a story recently about a conservative group targeting voters with Latino-sounding last names in swing states—including Virginia—with anti-Obama robocalls.
We got some second- and third-hand reports of similar calls with misleading, if not outright false, information in the Charlottesville area, and this evening, it was confirmed: Pam Baker deGuzman, an active member of the Charlottesville Democratic Committee, told C-VILLE that her family got no fewer than three identical calls.
They featured an English-speaking Latino man warning voters that Obama supports abortions even in the ninth month of pregnancy, and for girls as young as 13 without parental consent. “It was awful,” said deGuzman, whom we reached by cell phone from outside a city polling location.”We may have more today.”
“I think it’s pretty hilarious,” she continued, because she and her husband aren’t even Latino. “It’s actually a Filipino name.” Her husband is one quarter Filipino, “and it just happens to be the quarter that has the name.”
9:15pm: It’s official—Hurt wins the 5th
The Douglass campaign has sent out the following via e-mail:
“Earlier tonight General Douglass called to congratulate Congressman Hurt on a hard fought race that has apparently earned him a second chance to choose good over greed by taking action to stop dangerous uranium mining. We are all so grateful to everyone who supported General Douglass along the way. Our campaign to help Virginia families will now continue through the good people of the 5th district.”
8:10pm: Douglass loses the 5th to Hurt…maybe?
The Associated Press is reporting Robert Hurt has won Virginia’s 5th District seat over Democratic challenger John Douglass. NBC12 has the story here.
Other Virginia results, reported and repeated by various news outlets: Cantor takes the 7th, Bob Goodlatte takes the 6th.
Virginia’s results may take a while to come in. From the Washington Post:
There were still dozens of voters waiting in Prince William County’s line at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries as the polls officially closed. Some had already waited four hours. As long as they were in line at 7 they would be allowed to vote, county officials said. “We’ll be here ‘til the end,” said Gaston Gianni, the county’s chief election official.
North Carolina and Ohio’s polls have closed, but NBC says it’s too close to call.
In other news, we just had the lights turned off on us at the office. Respect the Election Day late-night newsroom camp-out, guys.
7:30pm: It’s begun
Numerous news outlets reporting Romney has Kentucky, Obama Vermont. Two down, 48 to go.
5:45pm: It takes all kinds
The bustle outside the Key Recreation Center polling place in North Downtown offered a true slice of Charlottesville life this afternoon.
Dawn Catlett cast her ballot and then bolted, telling this reporter to trot alongside if she wanted to chat. Who got her vote?
“Obama,” she said emphatically. “Bush got eight years to f— up the country. I think Obama deserves eight years to fix it.” She’s comfortable with Obama’s policies, especially when it comes to women’s rights and foreign affairs. “We haven’t gotten into a new war,” she said. “That’s something new for our country.”
Back near the Rec Center entrance, Vera Mason manned a GOP table, a scarf tied tightly over her head against the cold. She’s a 46-year resident of the U.S.—she was born in England—and a longtime Republican. She got to the polls at 6:30am to cast her vote for Romney.
“Obama doesn’t represent my values,” she said. “I’m worried about unemployment. He seems not to create jobs. Romney is a businessman.”
That makes her a minority here, but she doesn’t mind. “I am the only person on my street that has a Romney-Ryan sign, so I feel outnumbered,” she said, grinning.
A stone’s throw away, a gaggle of pierced, tattooed anarchist youth heckled voters. Joe Jordan held up a handmade sign that read “WHOEVER WINS, WE LOSE! DON’T VOTE (JUST REVOLT)” and yelled after a man walking with his young daughter as he headed inside that “Obama’s drone strikes will keep killing brown children in the Middle East.”
Not only are there no good candidates, Jordan said, voting just perpetuates the problem.
“It legitimizes an illegitimate system,” he said. “If nobody voted, then we could appeal to the international community and say, ‘This doesn’t represent us.’” He scoffed at the smiling voters walking by. “People think they tick a stupid box once every four years and that’s their civic duty,” he said.
Six feet away, prominent local attorney Frances McQ. Lawrence, who defended George Huguely during his high-profile murder trial, stood behind a table of Democratic greeters, an Obama sticker on the lapel of his winter coat. When asked about his noisy poll-watching neighbors, he laughed and shook his head.
“You have to stop yourself and say, ‘This is America,’” he said.
5:00pm: Afternoon turnout numbers from Albemarle
The latest numbers from the county show turnout is still lagging behind 2008, but not by as much as it was earlier today: “The Albemarle County Department of Voter Registration & Elections is reporting on voter turnout so far today. As of 4:00 p.m., 41,047 people had voted in Albemarle County, for a turnout of 55%. Last Presidential Election, Nov. 2008, at 4 p.m. – 40,005 voters; 59.4%.”
4:00pm: Turnout high around lunchtime
Reader Darren Sweeney just informed us that as of noon at Woodbrook Elementary School, 1,300 of the 2,9700 registered voters had already made their way to the polls.
Sweeney said he waited in line for about 10 minutes, and as he left people were still steadily filing in to cast their ballots.
Three hours left to vote in Virginia!
3:40pm: Checking in with the GOP
We caught up with Albemarle County Republican Committee Chair Cindi Burket this afternoon while she worked the phones at the Albemarle GOP headquarters on 29, fielding calls from voters and poll workers.
“We’ve been hearing we have some big numbers turning out,” she said. “We’re watching all the precincts, and it looks interesting. It’s really exciting knowing there are so many people interested in this election.”
This is Burket’s first race as chair of the local Committee, but she’s no stranger to Election Day frenzies. When she was growing up, her mom was an election official, and Burket sounds remarkably calm for someone who’s been eating, sleeping, and breathing electoral politics for months. Maybe that’s because things are relatively quiet at the moment—a temporary lull between the morning and evening voter rush. The calm won’t last, she said.
“I can guarantee, at least on the Republican side, things will pick up after work.” Then it’s back to taking queries from the party faithful before heading to the DoubleTree for the Republican results-watching party. She’s hopeful, but she’s not calling it yet.
“I think it’s going to be down to the wire,” she said.
2:40pm: Another turnout update from Albemarle County
Latest numbers from the county: “As of 1:00 p.m., 32,440 people had voted in Albemarle County, for a turnout of 43.47%. Last General Election, Nov. 2011, at 1 p.m. – 13,589 voted; 19.53%. Last Presidential Election, Nov. 2008, at 1 p.m. - 33,613 voted; 49.9%”
2:30pm: Local volunteers still going strong
Charlottesville County Democratic Committee Chair Jim Nix has been camped out at the Downtown Obama for America office all day, answering phone calls, organizing volunteers, and directing voters. He said he encourages people who have already voted to get back out there and canvass, making phone calls and reaching out to people who may be on the fence.
“We have loads of Democrats in Charlottesville and Albemarle, and many of them vote every time,” Nix said. “But there is a population of voters who, though acquainted with and supportive of the President, Kaine, and Douglass, don’t vote very often. That’s why we’re making these phone calls.”
Most people who abstain from voting don’t do so out of apathy, Nix said. Some simply don’t have time among family and work obligations, and he said a surprising number of voters don’t have a way to get out to the polls.
“There are a lot of people with transportation problems, so we have squads of people out doing that,” he said. Some voters are even showing up at the wrong locations, Nix said. Precinct lines were redrawn this year and people may be confused about where they’re supposed to go, so volunteers are stationed throughout the city to help voters get where they need to be.
“We do what we can to make it easier for people to vote,” Nix said.
1:30pm: Locally based progressive PAC ramps up a nationwide get-out-the-vote effort
Local political activists have been in get-out-the-vote mode for the last couple of weeks, but not everybody manning phone banks in Charlottesville has had their eyes on local politics recently. Staff and volunteers at a city-born left-leaning PAC, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, charged into Election Day at full tilt, making calls from their headquarters at the Glass Building on Garrett Street to voters all over the country in support of several chosen candidates.
Stephanie Taylor, a 33-year-old Charlottesville native and UVA grad, founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee with Adam Green in 2009. A staffer during former 5th District U.S. Congressman Tom Perriello’s victorious 2008 campaign, Taylor and several like-minded locals set out to create an organization that could boost what they call “bold progressives” through financial support and staff training.
Since then, they’ve raised $11 million for a number of campaigns, including Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, and Ohio senate hopeful Sherrod Brown. Their efforts—which included a high-profile and highly successful campaign to get corporations to drop their support of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC—have won them a lot of attention from pundits and news outlets.
Today, they’re focused on rallying their million-plus members to the polls. Michael Snook, another PCCC veteran of the Perriello campaign, said working for a bigger cause feels different than working for a campaign—in a good way.
“When you’re working for a movement, you get to take more joy in organizing and empowering people,” he said. “We’re here to win elections, but we also know we’re building an activist base that will carry on into the future.” Campaign volunteers work incredibly hard, he said, but after Election Day, their cause gets yanked out from under them. With his work for PCCC, he said, “win or lose, you know you’re building something better.”
12:05pm: Long waits for some
From Jody on Twitter: “I’ve received 3 calls already this morning. Oops, make that 4 (phone just rang) They’re all from RNC or NRA, so I hang up.”
Report of an hourlong line at a Fluvanna polling place. “Glad to see the high turnout.”
11:45am: Cautious optimism, couched words
The Wall Street Journal’s political blog has a post up with the latest from the presidential candidates on their own feelings about their chances, which makes for enjoyable reading. How many ways can you say “I think I can probably win”?
Closer to home, Twitter is buzzing with news of long lines at polling places in surrounding counties—Rockingham, Greene, Fluvanna. As of a few minutes ago, the wait at Albemarle High School was a modest 15 to 20 minutes.
Politico had a report up the other day about a conservative group trying to pull some Latino support from Obama via robocalls in key swing states, including Virginia. We just got a secondhand report of somebody with a “Latino last name” getting one of these calls last night. Anybody else get one? Tell us in the comments.
10:50am: Voter turnout update
From the county: “The Albemarle County Department of Voter Registration & Elections is reporting on voter turnout so far this morning. As of 9:00am, 15,213 people had voted in Albemarle County, for a turnout of 20.39%. The next measure of voter turnout in Albemarle will occur at 1:00 pm.”
9:30am: Long lines, chilly feet
The day started early for many. By 7:30am, poll greeters from both parties had been standing outside in the frosty dawn at Johnson Elementary for almost two hours, handing out sample ballots and literature to those filing in to cast their ballots. The wait was long—more than half an hour, said one poll worker—but those outside said spirits had been high since the line started moving.
Greeter Ivy Hinton, surrounded by other clipboard-wielding Democrats outside the school, said she hadn’t been active in Democratic politics before this year, but she was motivated by Obama’s second campaign.
“I was very committed, and I wanted the right choice to be made and to voice my opinion,” she said. “I think the current president has done the best job possible, and I wanted to support that. My opinion is that we should continue the way we’re going.”
Across the sidewalk, Frank Trivigno was acting as a GOP greeting team of one, smiling and shaking the occasional hand. He felt the opposite.
“I believe in less,” he said. “Less people telling me what to do, less restrictions on our freedoms. That’s why I’m out here. I believe that’s the way we should be going, not the way we are going.”
And what’s it like to live in Charlottesville and feel that way?
“It’s a lot like being in New Jersey and feeling that way,” he said. He grew up there, in blue country, so he’s used to feeling like a bit of a black sheep. But he gets why any Republicans walking by him might stride past quickly. “They’re walking by all of us,” he laughed. “They just kind of keep their heads down, keep moving forward.”