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Making history - Election coverage in Virginia

Early voter turnout in Virginia

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As expected, voters turned out in droves in Virginia on this historic Election Day.

Registered voters have come to the polls hours before the doors opened in an attempt to get in and out of the polling locations as soon as possible.

Richmond, Va. has already reported problems at certain polling places where 5 of the 7 voting machines broke down not allowing people to vote. Deemed an emergency situation, they have resorted to using paper ballots, while attempting to repair the machines.

In Virginia Beach, voters have been waiting an average of an hour and a half to two hours without much incident. At London Bridge Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, which is a designated polling place, the choices for senators Barack Obama and John McCain seem about even.

Voters on both sides of the fence seem confident. Two volunteers for the McCain/Palin campaign have braved the rain and elements outside of the voting place in a gesture of support for their candidates.

The volunteers, Michele M. and Sandy S. are Virginia Beach residents and commented on their support. “We are republican and we support John McCain, it could go either way. But the republican ticket is very positive. We’ve got the right people for the job.”

Pat is another long-time resident supporting Barack Obama. “I like what he stands for.” She came to vote with her son.

Sergeant Lafevre supports Obama. “I changed my state of voting to Virginia because Tennessee is voting republican.”

Another woman, who remains unidentified, is confident that McCain will have victory in the election.

In spite of the rain and bad weather, nothing is keeping away voters this Election Day.

Polls slowing down midday in Portsmouth Virginia

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Upon arriving in Portsmouth, Va. the polls show a distinct absence of one thing - voters.

The polling location at a Portsmouth Area School was decidedly empty although a few first time voters were happy to talk to Indian Country Today.

Whitney and Angel are friends that voted together in support of Barack Obama. Whitney, who is from Portsmouth, had this to say. “I am voting for Barack Obama because he has a good vision, it really is a time for a change.”

Angel, Whitney’s friend is from Charlotte and shared similar values, “I feel the economy is in a severe condition and Obama will bring a fresh perspective to this country. Whoever wins this election is going to have a serious challenge.”

The empty polls at noon were not an indication of earlier activity according to the workers at this district. Poll officials at the location stated significant lines earlier in the day, which are indicative of a pre-work rush.

Also in Portsmouth, CW-27, a local television station was taping a television program entitled “Here and Now on the CW” which was showcasing Native American Heritage month. In the show Chief Lynette Allston, Nottoway of Virginia, spoke about Virginia Indian history, Michael Cloud-Butler, Ojibwe, spoke about debunking stereotypes and Lt. Mark Bowman spoke about Contemporary Native Americans.

After the taping, ICT took time to talk to these Native community members in regards to their choices for president and an activity relating to today’s voting.

Photos by Vincent Schilling

Top: Polling location in Portsmouth, Va. Bottom: Whitney and her friend Angel wait outside an empty poll location in Portsmouth, Va.

Allston offered her activities and insight to the election. “My husband got up at 5 this morning with a beach umbrella to set up at the polls. I will be joining him at 2 p.m. today. The farmers won’t be dusty from harvesting peanuts because it is raining today.”

Chief Allston admits this is a comment of distinction, as her polling location hails from the Meherrin Precinct in Adams Grove, Va. a distinctly rural area. Allston supports Obama.

Butler also supports Obama, stating, “this country needs a change from the ground up.”

Ashley Robinson, Assistant Producer to CW27, is a senior at Norfolk State University. She has completed her absentee ballot for Cleveland. Robinson also supports Obama.

Obama looks to be the more popular choice.

For residents of the Virginia Hampton Roads Area - “Here and Now on the CW’s” tribute to Native American Heritage month will be running this Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008 at 6 a.m. eastern time.

Kempsville area of Virginia Beach holds a different emphasis on candidates than Portsmouth

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A bit of advice. When participating in a historical election in which large amounts of the population wait in one to two hour long lines for early voting, wait until the day of the election.

For voters who showed up to the Church of the Ascension voting location in the Kempsville district in Virginia Beach, voting from start to finish took about 15 minutes at 1 p.m. eastern time.

This seems to be the trend in many parts of Virginia, although the similarities end there. In the Kempsville district voting area, opinions on presidential candidates seem to change significantly from the exit opinions in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Barbara and Tom have lived in Virginia Beach since the 1970s and are strong supporters of McCain. Barbara stated: “I feel opposed to socialistic policies. Obama never addressed any of his character associations that were brought up during his campaign.”

Tom added, “his tax policies in regards to ‘the sharing of the wealth,’ in which you take away from the people that work hard and take risks and give it to those who don’t, doesn’t sit well with me.”

Diana, who has lived in Virginia Beach for 33 years, also voted for McCain. “He has more experience and more wisdom, that’s why I voted for him. Obama does not have enough under his belt.”

Jim Field said he voted mostly Republican, because of “what McCain primarily stands for. He has not made any idle promises.” Field, as a Navy veteran himself expressed appreciation for McCain’s military service.

One voter by the name of Mary, wore a McCain/Palin T-shirt, offered this comment upon exiting the polls: “I absolutely support McCain.”

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Volunteers never stop - even on Election Day

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Leslie and Alyse Stukey are a mother and daughter team that are working hard for their candidate Barack Obama.

Regardless of the elements on this rainy Election Day, Leslie and Elyse are going door-to-door in Virginia talking to people and hanging door flyers.

Leslie Stukey, the mother of the two, calls herself an avid supporter of Obama. “We have been making phone calls and canvassing all over the place.”

She also talked about having volunteered at an Obama rally assisting with seating the elderly and setting up the attendees that would sit behind Obama for media coverage.

When discussing the differences in certain areas of Virginia, Stukey admitted her district off Holland Road in Virginia Beach shares an even mixture of support for both candidates.

Leslie’s daughter Alyse also added to the conversation. “I wish I could vote.” She said. She also added how she has been helping her mother with their volunteer efforts. “I have been telling her the names and where people live. I have also colored signs and made posters.”

Leslie also added that she had voted and that she was glad that her son Kendall, who is 18, has voted for the first time.

In this historical election, it is apparent that a growing number of younger people are expressing a level of interest in the election process as well as the governmental process.

Polls close in one hour - Status in Indian country

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – As polls are drawing to a close, there are still no rushes on the polling locations as foreseen.

At a Virginia Beach oceanfront district location, poll officials spoke to ICT about some of the voting issues that surfaced throughout the course of the day.

“This campaign has been civil for the most part, people waited for two hours in line this morning but still said ‘have a pleasant day’ after we had to turn them away.”

The situation in Virginia seems to have its share of normal problems, but there are aspects of polling issues that are a cause for concern. According to the same official, “We’ve had to turn a dozen people that were registered at ACORN. They told me people came to their house and registered them but it turned out they weren’t registered after all.”

The process was a source of frustration to the official who continued to tell ICT about the problems related to unregistered voters. “I have a low opinion of ACORN, there were first-time voters that were disappointed we had to turn them away.”

The official at the oceanfront location made it clear that there was a problem with voters that registered through a third party.

But the official ended an otherwise statement of frustration with, “Overall, it has been a calm and quiet day.”

As of 5:30 p.m. eastern time, there is still a modest turnout at local polling locations.

Polls close in Virginia - Calm at the end of a storm

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – In a fairly calm end of the storm of the 2008 election process, the small numbers at the day’s end in Virginia Districts are almost disappointing.

However, with the flux of voters at the beginning of the process, there may be fewer margins for errors. Poll officials at districts in Virginia have reported some problems, but poll workers were able to fix most problems easily.

In Norfolk, Virginia listed as in city that made a call to CNN due to voting machine malfunctions, seemed reasonably well maintained in the district off Baker road.

Doug Roulstone and Kenny Golden took a moment to speak with ICT upon exiting the poll location.

Roulstone is actually a friend to John McCain and voted in Washington State before coming to Virginia to show support for the Republican Party. “McCain has the integrity and experience and knows about national defense and the economy,” asserted Roulstone.

Kenny Golden, who is the chairman for the Republican Party of Virginia Beach and is of Mattaponi descent, also took a moment to speak to ICT after casting his vote in Norfolk. As a member of the Republican Party, he was quick to show McCain support.

“Senator McCain’s experience level is superior to Obama. Obama seems like a nice guy, but he has the least experience ever of any presidential candidate, 143 days (as a Senator) is not a qualification.”

In Chesapeake, Virginia it was more of the same. Long lines were only in existence in the early morning hours. The day ended with a scattered few voters that had most likely come to the polls after work.

Pam Savage had waited two hours in the rain that morning cast her vote for Barack Obama. “He is an awesome man. He will do great, He has great skill and is someone to whom all people can relate. It was an unbelievable day, this man this morning was in a wheelchair and he could have gotten out of line to vote, be he wanted to stay and wait his turn.”

With all precincts in Virginia now closed, the country waits to see the outcome of this battleground state.