Election day is finally (finally!) here, and the next few hours will determine our nation's future, at least for the next few years.
It's going to be an intense day, and it's easy to lose focus in the middle of all the chaos and excitement. Here are some things to keep in mind...
Make sure you're at your correct precinct. States have different types of provisional ballot rules, and certain restrictions have been lifted for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, but it is much easier to be at the right place and not have to fill out the extra forms and come back to validate your ballot later.
Be prepared for a long wait and try to be patient. Bring snacks, drinks, and something to read (or make sure your phone is fully charged so you can play Angry Birds). As much as I think bringing children to the precinct to see their parents voting is a valuable experience, this year may not be the best time for that. Remember also that as long as you are in line before the polls close, you will be allowed to vote.
Do not under any circumstances believe any news reports, exit polls, chatter at the polling stations, or anyone telling you any of the following:
- That your state has been called before the polls officially close.
- That one candidate has taken a lead in the electoral college votes in the early states while your state is still voting.
- That your state is so solidly behind Romney or Obama that there is no point in voting.
- Any reason whatsoever that you shouldn't bother to vote.
First of all, the media do not declare the winner of the election. They have no legal power to do so. All they are doing is saying what they think is happening.
The supervisor of elections in your home county has to tally the votes, release an official record of the votes, and go through your state's procedures for certifying the result, which sometimes does not happen for hours or even days. Add in the very real possibility of litigation being filed, we may not know the result tonight, or tomorrow, or even days or weeks after that.
Accordingly, you need to go vote, no matter what the media says, no matter what you hear at the precinct, no matter what your neighbor or coworker or even your mother says.
Regarding exit polls, they have a very mixed record and are subject to many of the same biases that affect the other polls we've seen this election cycle. Again, remember: the exit polls have no actual legal bearing on the election results. You should ignore them until after you've voted.
As an added reason to ignore media reports and exit polls: there are troubling stories about how the Obama campaign may attempt to "call" the election in certain states prematurely for Obama, hoping to depress Republican turnout.
I was in Florida in 2000, when the networks all called Florida for Gore while the polls were still open in the Panhandle, which votes more conservatively than the rest of the state. People driving to the polls turned around, and some who were in line left and went home. This had a demonstrable and significant effect on turnout. Had the voting trends in the Panhandle for the earlier part of the day continued through that last hour, Bush's margin of victory would have likely increased from just a few hundred votes to pass the threshold needed to avoid a recount. See these excellent videos with 2000 election night news coverage here (Part 1) and here (Part 2) for more information.
Take time to volunteer if you can. There are Republican Victory Offices in every state where you can phone bank today, as well as the campaign offices for Congressional candidates. Volunteers are also needed to help drive voters to the polls.
If you can't get to an office, you can make calls for Romney from home today. Try to give at least an hour or two (or three!). Here's a link with all the information about the call from home program. I'm hearing scattered reports that Oregon may be within reach, so East Coasters will have a lot of hours available where they can help.
Remember: every Romney vote in every state is absolutely crucial. Even if your state is a landslide for Romney or Obama, your vote may help elect Republicans to the House and Senate who will help Romney pass a conservative agenda, as well as helping bolster support for conservative candidates in your local and state races.
Also, because we live in a 24-hour media world where perception is all-too-often reality, think about the bigger picture. Many on the Left and the media (but I repeat myself) have railed for years about how "unfair" it is that Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, and have made efforts to push for the end of the electoral college.
A decisive win for Romney in not only the electoral college but also the popular vote will take away one of the Left's arguments and methods of undermining Romney's mandate. We can do this by running up the score in the red states and narrowing the margin in the blue states. That means I expect all of you in both Texas and California to go cast ballots today.
Again...for the last time...
Do not let anything stop you from voting today.
Get to your precinct (drag a friend or two with you), get in line, and stay there until you have voted.
Victory is at hand.
...Today will be full of sound and fury, rumors and chaos. Remain steady, and ignore early reports from exit polls. The other team will spread rumors of an Obama blowout in the late afternoon. It will be a lie meant to shut down GOP turnout later in the day.
Rebut it. Ignore it. Press on. Know that it's a sign of their fear and desperation.
While you're standing in line to vote, get out your phone. Call 10 friends. Text them. E-mail them. Don't stop pushing for the win. Keep calling...Ace of Spades HQ | My Prediction for Tomorrow
Michael Graham | State Of The POTUS Race: ELECTION DAY!
Sunshine State Sarah | For Massachusetts voters, Red Sox fans, and anyone in a blue state
Check out the Ace of Spades HQ Decision Desk for election results later tonight. I've been getting emails about their methodology. It's solid, data drawn directly from the elections supervisors, and I expect will call several states and races earlier and more accurately than the networks.