Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:
‘GANGNAM STYLE,’ OBAMA STYLE?
Yes, those hard-hitting questions keep coming for the candidates, even on Election Day: President Barack Obama was asked by one interviewer Tuesday about the “Gangnam Style” dance craze.
During a radio spot with WZID-FM in New Hampshire, the commander in chief was pressed on whether he and first lady Michelle would do a rendition of the South Korean rapper PSY’s hit, which has hundreds of millions of views on YouTube.
“I just saw that video for the first time,” Obama replied. “I think I can do that move. But I’m not sure that the inauguration ball is the appropriate time to break that out.”
“Maybe,” he concluded, “do it privately for Michelle.”
For those of you wondering, this nugget just in from Romney’s Wendy’s visit: He ordered a quarter-pounder (no cheese), chili and a Frosty.
It’s been a long few days for sure. “He’s kind of operating on fumes,” Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, tells the AP, speaking about the presidential candidate and their hectic schedule.
WEDDED TO POLITICS
Talk about being wedded to politics.
Jonathan Carroll and Stephanie McClure of Hoboken, N.J., chose Election Day to form their own perfect union. Well, they figured they didn’t really have a choice.
Carroll says the original plan was to get married at a banquet hall in the shore community of Point Pleasant, but Superstorm Sandy devastated the area. Any thought of waiting beyond Tuesday to tie the knot was wiped away by an oncoming nor’easter that is expected to hit New Jersey on Wednesday and could result in more delays.
So Carroll and McClure said “I do” at Hoboken City Hall on Tuesday, while voters cast ballots across the way.
“You know how they say a rough beginning equates to a smooth ending?” Carroll said. “If that’s the way it goes, it’s going to be cake and ice cream the rest of my life.”
‘THESE THINGS MATTER’
Two views from a San Diego polling place:
On one hand:
San Diego poet Veronica Cunningham, 60, proudly held sheets of “I voted’ stickers to give out to the children at the schools where she works and said it felt good to vote as a gay Latina:
“A lot of people I know here think their vote doesn’t matter because we’re not in Ohio. But I think everybody should either put out or shut up. Anyone who cares about who you are, your ethnicity, your beliefs, should vote because these things matter in an election. I expect a few things from my country and I’m hopeful for Obama. After eight years with Bush, you can’t expect one, lone African-American man to be responsible for this whole mess. I definitely think he should be given a second chance. People really have short memories.”
THE SCENE IN HOBOKEN
Standing in front of a pile of junked refrigerators, a flood-destroyed car and a curbside mountain of waterlogged debris in front of his Hoboken home on Tuesday morning, Anthony Morrone didn’t even realize it was Election Day. Since immigrating to New Jersey in 1967, the 76-year-old retired mechanic had never missed a vote. Until today.
“No time, no time to vote, too much to do,” Morrone said, rattling off a list of things he needed to do after Superstorm Sandy ravaged his home last week, including mucking out the first floor, ripping out drywall, scooping Hudson River debris out of his driveway in a home a good quarter mile from the river. “Too much going on,” he added.
At Hoboken’s city hall, an American flag was draped over the railing where a huge board covered with handwritten instructions on where to get ice, hot food or other types of assistance was flanked by a printed sign saying “vote here.” A steady stream of voters were climbing the steps, despite the FEMA and National Guard trucks that still form a ring around the building a week after the storm.
PAUSING FOR HOOPS
President Barack Obama has paused his Election Day schedule for a moment for something he loves — basketball.
The president’s motorcade made a 10 minute drive to Attack Athletics, a sports complex, to play hoops with friends and staff. Dozens of people lining the streets waved and cheered as Obama made his way to the complex.
Among those playing alongside the president: Mike Ramos, a childhood friend from Hawaii, and Marty Nesbitt, a friend from Chicago.
BIDEN’S CLEVELAND VISIT
Vice President Joe Biden enjoyed lunch Tuesday at Cleveland’s Landmark restaurant, a greasy spoon that often attracts factory workers, municipal employees and regulars from a neighborhood of African Americans, eastern Europeans, Middle Eastern immigrants and Spanish speakers.
Biden, accompanied by his wife and other family members — including several grandchildren — stopped at the blue-collar lunch counter to eat and shake hands in the ethnic Cleveland neighborhood.
“It’s the iconic Cleveland restaurant,” Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman said.
SO MANY RACES
One particular race — the one for the right to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — gets the most attention on Election Day. There are thousands of others, too, of course.
The Associated Press tabulates results in 4,818 contested races, including 379 statewide races, nationwide.
That’s in addition to declaring thousands of uncontested races. There are even 13 uncontested contests for the 435-seat U.S. House of Representatives.
Tuesday’s races include 33 spots in the Senate and 11 governorships.
The AP also will tally 177 statewide ballot measures, along with state legislative races in 44 states, hundreds of state constitutional offices, judicial and mayoral races, many local ballot measures — and on and on it goes.
When does this start to wrap up? The first polls close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky at 6 p.m. EST. The last, in a small sliver of Alaska, shuts at 1 a.m. EST.
ART OF THE CALL
Ever wonder how a news organization calls a race at poll closing, when not one single vote has been counted?
For landslide elections, exit polls sometimes provide enough data to determine the winners. Workers stand outside polling places, asking voters to fill out confidential questionnaires about how they voted.
For more competitive races, analysts may use vote tallies from randomly selected voting precincts to supplement data from the exit polls. Workers report vote totals soon after the polls close, giving analysts a quick look at how the election is shaping up in that state.
For races that are even more competitive, news organizations rely on the AP vote count, the only national source of election results in all U.S counties and other vote-reporting jurisdictions. The AP is deploying more than 5,000 workers today to collect vote results and report them to news organizations — and the public — around the world. The AP will report results for nearly 7,000 races.
Government officials get the final say. Congress verifies the Electoral College votes for president and vice president, while state and county officials certify local election results.
TASTE OF DEMOCRACY
It’s not at all scientific, but it is delicious: A Roseville, Minn., bakery is offering Obama and Romney cookies to test its customers’ preference in the presidential race.
Roseville Bakery owner Amy Johnson says she’s done her cookie poll in the past two elections, and it correctly predicted the winner both times.
It boosts cookie sales, too. Customer Muriel Sharpe read about the cookie poll online and when she heard Obama was behind, she drove in Tuesday morning and snatched up two dozen Obama cookies.
She passed some out to other customers. Then she bought eight more.
Despite her efforts, Romney still held an 830-to-731 lead over Obama in cookie sales.
Johnson says the political cookies have sparked some heated discussion between customers and gotten her young staff more engaged in what’s going on.
RAPPER’S ELECTION MATH
“I’m voting today for Obama...... Why? Because i just don’t TRUST Romney. If you disagree with me...All you have to do is vote for Romney and cancel out my vote. #ELECTIONMATH” — Actor-rapper Ice T on Twitter.
VOTING IN THE DARK
On New York City’s Staten Island, voters lined up outside dark tents to vote in areas still without power after Superstorm Sandy. In the Jersey Shore community of Little Egg Harbor Township, voters cast ballots in a mobile polling station dubbed the “vote-a-bago”, just one week after Sandy devastated towns and cities along the state’s coastline.
Check out two AP videos:
The first: http://bit.ly/SUBf3k
The second: http://bitly.com/UgLWBT
AUTHOR’S ADVICE: VOTE
Judy Blume has been writing for young readers for decades, and she posted an election-day message to them on Facebook.
“I’m voting because voting is a privilege and I’ve never missed an election since I turned 21 and got the right to cast my vote. (Yes, you had to be 21 to vote then),” the author writes. “It makes me crazy when I hear young people say elections have nothing to do with them. I’ve got news for you if you think this election has nothing to do with your life. It has everything to do with your life.”
Blume says the issues most important to her this election are women’s rights, the environment, health care, foreign relations and “to have a say in who will be appointed to the Supreme Court.”
“I’m voting for the candidate I trust more,” she says.
While Paul Ryan rode off in a motorcade with running mate Mitt Romney, Janna Ryan stayed behind on the Tarmac and tossed the football with her children, their cousins and her brother-in-law Tobin Ryan.
Even in a maroon shift dress and knee-high boots with heels, she has a tight spiral.
TWO SHIPS PASSING
Here’s an odd moment just in from Election Day, courtesy of AP’s Philip Elliott, traveling by plane with GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. He reports:
“Ryan wheels down in Cleveland. On final descent, VP Biden’s motorcade could be seen out the right windows pulling away from Air Force Two.”
Biden made an unannounced stop in Cleveland a bit ago, placing him and Ryan, his rival for the vice presidency, in very close proximity on Election Day in the very competitive state of Ohio.
ELECTION DAY OFF
If you make cars in Detroit, the odds are reasonably good you have today off.
Employees of all three Detroit automakers have had presidential election days off for years. The United Auto Workers union says it negotiated the day in 1999, and it took effect in 2000.
All three companies extended the day off to salaried workers.
‘A SPIRITED CAMPAIGN’
“I also want to say to Gov. Romney, congratulations on a spirited campaign. I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic, working just as hard today. We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win.” — President Barack Obama speaking to reporters in Chicago.
BURGERS VS. OMELETTES
France’s version of the U.S. Election Day is playing out ... on the plate.
For 24 hours, the popular Breakfast in America diner in central Paris is offering two special additions to the menu: an Obama Burger and a Romney Omelette. The owner will count how many dishes are sold by the end of the day and the U.S. election winner, as decided by French palates, will be declared.
One problem: The Obama Burger is bursting with sausages and pickles, whereas the Romney Omelet is plain and simple — almost guaranteed to sell less.
“This morning we had some customers from America who were very unhappy. They were Romney supporters and were offended,” says diner owner Craig Carlson, a U.S. citizen from California.
“We tried to explain it’s just a joke and we tried to put a little slant on it. (Romney) always says he is a regular American, a plain American.”
If you’re voting in Washington, D.C., better put your phone away.
Many early morning voters in the nation’s capital ended up talking with their neighbors as they waited in long lines to vote, because they were not allowed to check their cell phones. Poll workers offered no explanation for the rule.
VOTING FOR TWO
A pregnant suburban Chicago woman didn’t let being in labor stop her from voting in her first presidential election.
Cook County Clerk David Orr reports that 21-year-old Galicia Malone’s water had broken and her contractions were about five minutes apart. But Orr says she still made the detour en route to the hospital to vote this morning at the polls at New Life Celebration Church in Dolton, Ill.
No word yet on if the baby was born.
RYAN AT THE POLLS
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has cast his ballot — at the Janesville library in Wisconsin.
Ryan, wife Janna and his three children arrived at the Janesville library to vote in a presidential race that entered its final day on Tuesday.
Ryan did not wait in line and made his way to the front of the line. He greeted poll workers with hugs and asked one man, “Coach,” if he was in touch with mutual friends.
Ryan was then heading to campaign stops in Ohio and Virginia before an election night rally with Mitt Romney in Boston.
PLEASANT AND EFFICIENT
“If going to the bank or the grocery store or paying my electric bill was this easy, I’d do it every day. The poll workers were pleasant and efficient. If only everything was as easy as voting.” — Issac Holmes, 52, landscaper and Las Vegas voter.
AT STORM POLLS, EMOTION
For some in the storm recovery zone, voting today is an emotional event.
On Long Island, Sarah Brewster, 39, was shaken when she entered the East Elementary School in Long Beach to vote and noticed that the clocks were all stopped at 7:27 — the time on Monday evening when everyone in the community lost power. She started crying when she emerged from the crowded school cafeteria, surrounded by more reminders of the hurricane — the loud hum of generators to keep the school open and the portable toilets on the sidewalk.
“It’s emotional. You go into the building here and you see the clocks stopped at 7:27 when we lost power. It’s right there in the polling place, 7:27, when it all happened here, so...”
She trailed off. Tears streamed down her face as she spoke.
“Seeing the generators and all that but it’s important to be here. We’ve just got to keep going forward and doing the best we can in the midst of the destruction.”
“It’s part of our civic responsibility in the midst of all this crisis.”
“I feel optimistic but only cautiously optimistic. Because until people actually show up at the polls and cast their ballot, the rest of this stuff is all just speculation.” — President Barack Obama in a radio interview with “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.”
HAPPIEST VOTE EVER
“Oh my God, I have been so anxious about being able to vote. ... It’s such a relief to be able to do it. This is the happiest vote I ever cast in my life.” — Annette DeBona of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., voting in an area hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.
The 73-year-old restaurant worker was so worried about not being able to vote that she called the police department several days in advance, as well as her church, to make absolutely sure she knew where to go and when.
Her choice for president: Mitt Romney.
VOTING DAY DOODLE
The Google Doodle today in the United States is the word “Google” in the shape of various ballots, floating through the air into a star-spangled ballot box.
In these divisive times, the palette of fairness is calibrated perfectly: The two Gs and the E are in red, and the two Os and the L are in blue. (Check it out at http://google.com)
“There’s no doubt that people have tried to put obstacles in our way in Congress, playing politics instead of doing what we need to do to make sure everybody is getting a fair shot.” — President Barack Obama, interviewed on 99 Jamz in Miami.
VOTE — FOR 2 THINGS
On a brisk, sunny morning in the heavily Democratic District of Columbia, long lines of voters wearing wool caps and winter coats stood outside schools serving as polling places along Wisconsin and Connecticut avenues, main commuter routes into downtown Washington.
At Washington bus shelters, an electronic ad flashed: “It’s Time to Vote! The Presidential Election on Tuesday. X-Factor on Wednesday!”
“I think you know,” Mitt Romney says. The question: Who did he vote for?
Romney has just cast his ballot in the presidential election.
His wife, Ann, was at his side when the pair cast their ballots near their Belmont, Mass. home a little before 9 a.m. EST. The Republican presidential candidate returns to Boston Tuesday night for an Election Day reception at the Boston Convention Center.
VIEW FROM SOUTH KOREA
Two North Korean defectors working at a Seoul-based shortwave radio station that targets audiences in North Korea planned a special section on the U.S. election in their regular program Tuesday night.
In the recorded program, the defectors explained the U.S. election system and compared it with the North Korean system, where a sole parliamentary candidate will win with nearly 100 percent of the vote, according to station head Kim Seong Min.
“We also explained that in South Korea it’s hard for one candidate to win more than 50 percent of votes cast, as there are diverse opinions. (In the U.S.), challengers often compete against an incumbent president, and we stressed that that’s something that couldn’t happen in North Korea,” he said.
“We said that we hope this kind of election system will someday be possible in North Korea, and that there were revolutions in the Middle East to achieve this kind of system,” Kim said.
Kim said many North Korean defectors have testified that they listened to the station’s radio programs before leaving North Korea, though he doesn’t know how many listen daily.
Win or lose, Barack Obama’s election night party will look far different than it did four years ago, when 125,000 people gathered on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago’s Grant Park. The campaign decided not to test its weather luck this year and is holding the election night event indoors, at the McCormick Place convention center.
The decision appears to have been a smart one. The weather in Chicago on Tuesday night is forecast to be cold and rainy.
ROMNEY ON REAGAN
“I won’t guarantee that they’ll get it right, but I think they will.” — Mitt Romney, asked on WTAM radio in Cleveland whether he agrees with Ronald Reagan’s conclusion that voters always get it right in the end.
“Now voting, Joe Biden,” announced the polling place worker manning a booth in Greenville, Del., the vice president’s home state. Biden went into the booth and — presumably — voted for himself and President Barack Obama.
Like the other early-morning voters, Biden waited his turn in line, along with his wife, Jill.
Later, reporters asked whether he had any prediction for the outcome. “Oh, I’m feeling pretty good,” Biden said.
Any final thoughts? “I hope everybody exercises their right to vote. It’s a great honor. And people who are standing in line in a lot of places, I encourage you to stand in line as long as you have to.”