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Determined to vote

  • Gavin Hewitt
  • 23 Oct 08, 01:39 AM GMT

So the numbers chosing early voting are large. Early in the week in Broward County the figures were significantly up on four years ago. By now close to 200,000 people have voted. Some officials think that by election day 40% of voters in Florida will have been to the polling stations.

What this indicates to me is that American voters, this time around, are highly motivated. Turn-out should be up. The expectation in Florida is that 80% of registered voters will vote. It is hard to be certain who that benefits. But the Democrats have been more successful in registering new voters. It also means that a significant number of Americans are voting at a time Barack Obama is 8% ahead in the polls. For many the election is not on 4 November but now.

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But what about the "hanging chad" shadow? Quite a few Democrats still believe the 2000 election was stolen. They tell you that not every vote was counted. Sometimes - at an Obama rally - when an activist is explaining the law and how voters should not be deterred by polling officials there is a cry from the crowd "Not this time!"
The Democrats seem highly organised to contest any attempts to challenge registered voters.

The Republicans too are suspicious. I sat in today at a Republican meeting at a country club in Palm Beach. Sid Dinerstein, along with almost everyone there, believes that ACORN, a community-based organisation, is committing massive fraud. Several people there told me that Democrats were bribing voters were offers of food or signing up bogus people. They believe, too, there is a danger of the election being stolen.

So, once again, the lawyers are on hand in Florida. Yet today I felt again the pulse of this extraordinary campaign: a nation in crisis determined to vote.

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