Der Tag

DER TAG....Are the early exit polls out? Have the nets called a winner yet?

No? Well, then, go vote!

Election Protection is a coalition of voting rights groups that, as I mentioned in this space yesterday, is hosting the nation's premier voter hotline — 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Yesterday, I visited the org's national command center in downtown Washington DC, where trained volunteers were handling phone calls by the thousands from voters seeking information or reporting problems. As you can see on Election Protection's online database of voter reports, the volunteers received more than 10,000 calls by 9:20 am today. A new report is added every few seconds, in real time.

Officials from Election Protection were kind enough to give me an explanation of how they do what they do, and what challenges remain in their way. Have a look.

Election Protection is blasting reporters with some of the worst voting problems it is seeing around the country today. After the jump, a collection:

Just an FYI, folks — MoJoBlog and Kevin Drum will have coverage of the election all day and all night. We know we're not replacing CNN, but visit us for analysis, under-the-radar stories, and our typical panache.

For now, we've got four stories that went up late yesterday: Kevin Drum's "The Great Persuader," about the challenges Obama will face should he win; my "Election Day Arrives: Should Obama Supporters Worry?" about whether the supposed tightening in the polls should give anyone pause; Laura Rozen's "Getting Ready for President McBama," about a Congressional honcho who is ready to work intelligence in a McCain or Obama administration; and Adele M. Stan's "Howard Phillips' World," about the Constitution Party candidate who could provide inspiration for the GOP.

Hope to see a lot of you over the next, oh, 17 hours.

As you probably know by now, Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died yesterday, one day before the nation decides if the man she raised gets to be the next president of the United States. To many — Obama himself probably first among them — it felt like a punch to the stomach. As a middle-aged white woman raising a half-black boy in the 1970s, Dunham led an unconventional family. As Obama tells it, she was undaunted by the challenge. In fact, she embraced it. In a statement about Dunham's death, Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said, "She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances."

But take heart, Obama supporters. According to Eli Sanders of the Seattle Stranger, Dunham was able to cast her ballot before her death. Here's Kevin Cronin, chief election officer for Hawaii, speaking to Sanders:

Ms. Dunham's absentee mail ballot was received and reviewed under the Hawaii standards for processing absentee mail ballots… She was alive at that time. Her ballot will be opened tomorrow, and it will be counted in the same way that all absentee voters would be treated under our law.

No word, of course, on who she voted for. I suspect we can guess. What a proud moment that must have been.

Kindergarten Landslide

My five-year-old came home with an "I Voted" sticker on Monday and informed me that he'd cast his ballot for the guy he's insisted for weeks on calling "OhRock Obama." Turns out that he was part of the "Every Kid Votes" program, in which some 800,000 kids in all 50 states (what company president Ed Rickers calls a "significant sampling") made their choice, with OhRock prevailing 59 percent to 41 percent.

Just sayin'.

Early Returns

EARLY RETURNS....The fine folks in Dixville Notch, NH, have recorded their usual midnight vote:

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday's first minutes. The town of Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots but got no votes.

Looks like a big win for Ron Paul to me. He's probably planning his 2012 campaign already.

Then and Now

THEN AND NOW....In 2004, everyone complained that John Kerry was an old-media plodder who didn't react quickly enough to conservative attacks. What a dunce! In 2008, everyone is praising Barack Obama for keeping his composure and not letting conservative attacks knock him off his message. What a cool customer!

Just curious: Am I the only person amused by this?

What Comes From Alaska & May Save Us All?

Oudemansiella_nocturnum.JPG No, not these miraculously fast fruiting bodies but these ones: mushrooms. That's right. The fungi growing in the dry spruce forests of Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and other northern regions are fighting global warming in unexpected ways. When temps rise and soils warm, fungi are not increasing the rate at which they convert soil carbon into carbon dioxide—as many feared. Instead they dry out and produce significantly less CO2.

Northern forests contain an estimated 30 percent of the Earth's soil carbon. That's equivalent to the amount of atmospheric carbon. Which means that mushrooms are not contributing to a vicious cycle of warming in dry boreal forests. Instead, they're actually preventing further warming from occurring. Possibly giving us a teensy bit more time to implement responsible policies to counteract warming globally. . . Starting with responsibly electing the next president of the United States. The study, btw, appears in the journal Global Change Biology.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the PEN USA Literary Award, the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal.

Joe Mania

JOE MANIA....A Norfolk station asked John McCain today why he wasn't doing better in Virginia. Here's his answer:

"We're doing much better actually, there's a poll out today that shows we're within about three so we're moving up and moving up fast. And look, Joe the Bomb — uh — Joe the Plumber turned the whole thing around."

The comical part of this is that McCain almost called him "Joe the Bomber." Ha ha. But the genuinely weird part of it is McCain's bizarre embrace of Joe. It's one thing to use the guy as a campaign prop, but to tell the world that it was Joe who "turned the whole thing around"? That Joe is his personal "role model"? You gotta be kidding. Those aren't things you'd want to admit even if they were true, are they?

Election Day: SWAT Teams at the Ready

Early%20Voting.jpg

I voted the good ol' fashioned way today—in person at my Oakland polling station (though a day early to beat tomorrow's chaos). I was nervous when I saw the nightmarish line at Alameda County Courthouse, but surprisingly, I got out in about an hour fairly unruffled. The place was fully staffed, the line efficient, and the mood upbeat. A guy quipped, "Obama better appreciate this," as he dutifully made his way to the back.

Not a whiff of the tension that riot police and SWAT teams are gearing up for tomorrow in Oakland—a phenomenon that, strangely, hasn't been very widely reported. Troubling, considering that it's happening mostly in cities with large black populations like Atlanta and Chicago.


Early%20Voting2.jpg


Nichole Wong