Filed Under:  National, News, Politics, Top News

Vote early, Vote for … It’s not always easy to register

29th October 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Trahant
Contributing Writer

(Special from Indian Country Today and New America Me­dia) — President Barack Obama, campaigning in Ohio, told supporters last week, to “vote early, like me.” And, Obama in a YouTube video, titled “Vote Early,” reminds his supporters that election day isn’t the only day you can vote any longer, “It’s only the last day.”

Four years ago voting early was a key building block in Obama’s election, helping him carry states such as Ohio. This election both sides have stepped up their efforts to turn out their vote — as soon as possible.

Nearly seven million people have already voted in this election— including the president (the first to have done so early).

A poll in Time magazine puts this trend into perspective: “There are really two races underway in Ohio. On one hand, the two candidates are locked in a dead heat among Ohioans who have not yet voted but who say they intend to, with 45 percent of respondents supporting the President and 45 percent preferring his Republican challenger. But Obama has clearly received a boost from Ohio’s early voting period, which began on October 2, and runs through November 5. Among respondents who say they have already voted, Obama holds a two-to-one lead over Romney, 60 percent to 30 percent.”

However Republicans say they are better prepared for early voting this time around.

Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, was quoted in The Des Moines Register saying that to claim an early voting advantage this early “is almost as absurd as predicting the outcome of a baseball game after the second out.”

Advantage or not, early voting numbers are big across the country.

“Colorado is one where 85 percent of the votes are going to be cast prior to election day,” Michael Mc­Donald, an associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University, told the BBC News. “Florida is going to be close to two-thirds. In Ohio, they’re on pace for 40-45 percent early voting.”

There’s so much activity in the early voting space that the BBC asked, “Is the election already decided?”

I’m Voting For …

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election Thursday on “CBS This Morning.”

“Generally we’ve come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude,” he said. “The unemployment rate is too high, people are still hurting in housing, but I see that we’re starting to rise up.”

Powell is a Republican and serv­ed under President George W. Bush. He gave Obama high marks on international issues. The president is getting the U.S. out of Iraq, about to get us out of Afghanistan, “and did not get us into any new wars. And finally I think that the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid. And so, I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.”

Speaking of endorsements, The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall, Idaho, issued a voting guide for tribal members this week. The document is bipartisan, endorsing for re-election, for example, the local member of Congress, Repub­lican Mike Simpson.

The tribes also endorsed Presi­dent Obama for re-election and a variety of candidates and votes for state ballot measures.

Dozens of tribes and pueblos have endorsed Obama, but a full-scale voting guide is rare.
Proof Please

The voter ID line demonstrates a divide between rural and urban life, as well as reservation culture. Colorlines produced a short video about what it takes to get a state-issued ID that will work for voting. The YouTube video goes through step by step what it took for a Navajo elder, Agnes Laughter of Chilchineto, in Arizona, to get all of the paperwork necessary to vote.

“But Laughter, who only speaks Navajo, was told she didn’t have the right documentation,” wrote Aura Bogado.

“Determined to not be defeated, she enlisted the help of a dozen volunteers to help with gathering documents, and providing interpretation and legal assistance so that she could finally get her ID. Countless others on the Navajo Nation remain in a similar predicament.”

The film was produced by community journalist Hillary Abe from Flagstaff.

Long-time Indian Country Today contributor Mark Trahant, a writer, speaker and Twitter poet, is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.

This article originally published in the October 29, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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