Down to the last seconds of voting

Brittany Moffat

Election Day eve brings hectic pace for some, solace for other volunteers

Night was falling and so was an intermittent rain. Nancy Warlop and Janet Stadulis, volunteers for Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, stood in the parking lot of the CVS store on South Water Street. Warlop held a computer printout of addresses along Summit Street.

Stadulis pointed first at one house, then at another behind it. She and Warlop agreed the second building must be the final house on their list. The two women chuckled and said this hadn’t been the first time in the last five-and-a-half hours they’d had trouble finding a house.

“We’ve come to realize how important really clear (house) numbers are,” Stadulis said.

Yesterday marked the second to last day of campaigning for the local offices of the national Republican and Democratic Party campaigns and the last for most of the local campaigns.

Long days, late nights

Local campaign volunteers for Sens. Obama and John McCain said they will be making phone calls and going door-to-door through the close of the polls today at 7:30 p.m.

At the McCain-Palin Victory Center in Kent, Eric and Daelyn Fortney said they and the volunteers would continue their canvassing efforts. They said their goal today was to make sure county residents had voted in person or by absentee ballot.

Jason Levine, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said the party would continue their grassroots activities through the close of polls tonight. Levine said he didn’t have any definite numbers of how many volunteers would be working today, but he knew that the party expected it to be the “biggest volunteer day to date.”

The Obama-Biden campaign office on Main Street was not as packed with people as it has been in the past few months, but boxes of literature now take up the same space. Jessica Halem, a volunteer for the campaign, said the office had been busy earlier in the day, but at 5 p.m., most people were still out canvassing and hanging signs with local polling place information on doors. Sandy Halem, second vice chair for the county Democratic Party, said volunteers would be there till about 9:30 p.m. last night and would be in this morning around 5 a.m.

The Portage County Democratic Party headquarters in Ravenna was equally busy yesterday. Office manager Nancy Angerman said the office had been busy practically all day.

‘People are inspired’

Carol O’Laughlin, a volunteer at the Democratic headquarters, said that in the three years she’s worked in the office, these last few months have been the busiest she’s seen.

Elizabeth Roberts, a former Arizona resident who currently lives in Summit County, spent a few hours yesterday afternoon and last night making phone calls for McCain. She said she had left many voicemail messages, but was surprised how many of the people she actually spoke with had already voted absentee. She also said most people she knew seemed genuinely excited about the chance to cast their ballot.

“Our government can’t be what we want it to be if we don’t participate,” Roberts said.

‘Can’t take it for granted’

Those involved with local races shared a similar sense of anticipation with their national counterparts. Patrick Macke, superintendent of the Portage County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, said the main campaigning for Issue 35 was complete. Macke said he felt “cautiously optimistic” about the tax levy being renewed, but added that the outcome was not a sure thing till results are reported tonight.

“I’ll sleep better tomorrow night if it passes,” he said.

David Doak, county sheriff candidate, said he went to about 200 homes yesterday and passed out nearly all his remaining campaign literature. After a year of campaigning, he was extremely proud of the work his campaign had done.

But Doak also said, regardless of how the sheriff’s race turns out, this election would be very exciting.

“There’s a lot of history gonna be made tomorrow night,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Brittany Moffat at [email protected].