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Voters Young and Old Anxious About Future

Howard Foster is sitting quietly in the sunny lobby of his assisted living apartment building.  He cast his first vote for president in 1932, when democrat Franklin Roosevelt took on republican Herbert Hoover.  The Great Depression was ravaging the nation, and voters wanted change.  This year’s election sounded the echoes of that era in many ways, except this time, an African American won the White House.  Foster is giddy.
“It’s great. It’s great. I don’t know what I feel.  I can’t believe it,” Foster says.

At a senior center downtown Louisville, seniors are holding an indoor yard sale.  Betty has piled her table with sweaters and costume jewelry.  The first election in which she was eligible to vote was in 1964.  At that time, she could vote, but she wasn’t allowed in the movie theater on 4th Street in a still-segregated Louisville.  She says she has mixed feelings about the election.

“I’m elated, and I’m worried because it’s a mess he’s coming into a mess, and it’s going to take a whole lot to get him out of it.  And we all have to work together to do this.  Everybody’s glad and proud and everything, but we also got to understand he’s coming into a mess and it’s going to take something to get out of it,” says Betty.

Young voters share some of those concerns—and they have others.  University of Louisville Freshman Kirsten Kirkland breezes into the student activity center, dressed for track practice.  She says she’s excited about Barack Obama’s win, but she’s not sure everyone can handle it.

“At the same time I’m very nervous and worried about his family’s life.  People have already tried to kill him before he won the official election,” Kirkland says.

This was also the first presidential election for Freshman Bo Eggers.  He says he voted for McCain, but he’s ready to move forward.

“Kind of excited that it’s over.  Just cause of all the political ads and all that. It’s over with.  A lot of negative.  Now we can focus on the positive and actually get things done,” says Eggers.

Older McCain supporters expressed the same desire to move forward and get cracking on fixing some of the country’s ills.  Ray Thomas is working a crossword puzzle in a reclining chair in his apartment.  He says the next president has his work cut out for him, from the economy to foreign wars.

“And I wish president Obama my best, with the situation he’s got to go through.  I was born a republican and I voted republican.  But I’m not a sore loser,” Thomas says.

Downstairs in the apartment building’s activity room, Gertrude Gay isn’t as sanguine about the election’s winner.  As a World War II vet who served as a nurse in Normandy, Gay says she identified more with McCain.

“I feel the… I’m….open to what is going to happen. Of course, I was very much for McCain because he was a veteran.,” says Gay.

All of these voters share the belief tha this election was indeed historic, with the first serious possibility that a woman could be vice president or an African American the president.  And they all feel anxious about what lies ahead.  The nation is in dire straits—from the economy to our image overseas.

Local News

Shelbyville Residents Vote in "Historic" Election

Shelbyville residents who turned up to vote at the fairgrounds may have supported different candidates.  But regardless of their party affiliations, many agreed the economy ranked as their top concern.  And like many, voter Jessica Flannery said something even more important drove her to the polls.

“But also I mean this is a historic election. I mean anybody who didn’t vote for this is just insane.”

Voter Angela Phillips agreed.

“The country’s in a crazy state right now.  Obviously the economy is a huge issue and we have to vote, we have to make a difference.  It’s the only way that, you know, anything’s going to change.”

This election turned out many first time and infrequent voters.

Local News

2,040 Poll Workers Assist Jeff. Co. Voters

Thousands of poll workers have volunteered to ensure the election goes smoothly in Kentucky.  And so far, so good, for the most part, despite record turnouts.  At a relatively small downtown Louisville polling place, election workers say they’ve seen double the turnout they normally see.  But election official Michael Jones says that hasn’t caused any problems.

“No equipment problems. Just a few people with confusion on how to fill out their ballots.  But we’ve got that taken care of and really it’s been very smooth,” Jones says.

Jones says this is the first time he’s volunteered to help on election day.  He joins more than  two thousand other election day volunteers in Jefferson County. Downtown Louisville polling place.

Local News

Undecided Voters, Up to the Last Minute

Campaign signs are not as prevalent in the front yards of Louisville’s working class Portland neighborhood as they are in other areas of town.  But voters were trickling in steadily this morning.  Several said making up their minds about the presidential candidates was no easy task.  Long-time resident Frank Mattingly says he made his decision just a couple of days ago.

“I don’t know really what took me so long.  I was just studying it, studying who I was going to vote for, because we do need a change.  I think I voted for the right person, I’m not going to say who,” says Mattingly.

Mattingly says foreclosures in the housing market concerned him in this election, as well as the overall economy.  That echoes what most voters said when interviewed this morning, that the economy tops their list of concerns this election year.
Frank Mattingly is a long-time Portland neighborhood resident.

(Frank Mattingly voted at the Portland Community Center.)

Local News

County Expects Heavy Turnout Tuesday

There are nearly half a million registered voters in Jefferson County – up from the previous presidential election year.  And County clerk’s office spokesperson Nore Ghibaudy says officials expect a huge turnout.

“Last presidential election, we had just over 70 percent of the folks, and we’re looking between 70 an 82 percent that could come out and vote on Tuesday.  And I understand the weather’s going to be great.  And usually on election day if the weather is nice, that usually means a heavy turnout,” says Ghibaudy.

More than 16,000 of those voters have already cast absentee ballots.  But for Tuesday, Ghibaudy says poll workers are prepared, although lines could be long.  He says voters can do their part by confirming their voting location ahead of time and getting familiar with what will be on the ballot.

In-Depth News Local News

Watching At The Polls, Before And On Election Day

Voters and those involved in getting votes counted on Election Day are calling this election a big one. And with its record numbers of registered voters there’s more scrutiny of the voting process. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The high interest in this year’s elections have government and party officials agreeing on the some of the scenes you’ll see at the polls on Nov. 4:  Long lines and possibly throngs of campaign workers outside. They’re talking about it among themselves, to journalists and at the Jefferson County Clerk’s office’s recent training for poll workers.

In the Iroquois High School auditorium, poll workers are learning about what should happen if a machine fails, if a ballot is spoiled and if somebody’s name is not listed correctly on the voter rolls. Attorney Sarah Martin explains the law regarding those campaign workers.

“When you all came in this morning, there were some candidates out front handing out their campaign material,” Martin says. “That’s electioneering and that’s prohibited within 300 feet of the polls on Election Day.”

Poll workers are trained to report people who disobey the rule. In Indiana, campaign workers must stay 50 feet from a polling place.

But while you’ll see these workers at the polls and others campaigning for candidates, there are many facets of the process you don’t see, and many of them are happening now.

The offices of county clerks around the region are overseeing early voting and the preparation of voter rolls. They are checking individual names and addresses against registration forms.

“Like this young man. He’s living on Mariana Drive. He should be OK. Yes. This one’s OK. So, good.”

That’s Floyd County Indiana Clerk Linda Moeller as she goes through a stack of absentee voter applications, while dozens of early voters line in a hall outside her office in the City-County Building in New Albany.

“What I’ve been going through this morning is — we call them our problem children— is to fix them and send them back to the person and let them know that there is something wrong with them, send them a registration form,” Moeller says. “It’s just kind of working with that person to say ‘This is what’s not right with your application; this is what you can do to fix it.'”

Moeller says she and her staff have been meticulously handling the paper work to avoid problems come Election Day. She says there will be more scrutiny of voters’ detailed information due to Indiana’s voter identification law. Upheld by the Supreme Court in April and one of the nation’s strictest, it requires all voters to present a state or federally issued photo ID.
¼br /> Some polling places in Jefferson County and in Southern Indiana will have partisan poll watchers. Both Democratic and Republican leaders in Indiana say they will have watchers at some precincts to make sure no one is inadvertently or intentionally kept from voting, if legally eligible.
¼br /> Sometimes referred to as “challengers,” party officials throughout the country are talking about deploying more of them for this election to guard against fraud and voter intimidation. That includes Tim Longmeyer, chair of the Jefferson County Democrats.

“Critical things for us to have: eyes and ears out in the county so we can respond if there are any legal issues that should arise,” Longmeyer says.

What those particular issues would be, Longmeyer doesn’t specify. But researcher Laura Seago has some ideas about issues that might pop up. She’s with the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan research group at the New York University School of Law.

“I think that we’ll see challenges if there’s a lot of machine failure and contingency plans aren’t necessarily deployed widely or if a huge number of voters are being forced to vote by provisional ballot,” Seago says.

Seago does see another problem, one that exists in several states, including Kentucky. There is no state law guiding how vote totals are reconciled after they are counted at the precinct level and delivered to county level. In Jefferson County, vote totals are only reconciled if the election results are challenged.

Despite all the other preparation and contingency plans that are in place, Seago and others say problems are bound to arise with the expected high voter turnout. But they don’t know exactly what or where those will be.

Local News

Economy, Faith Motivate Louisvillians to Vote

Most voters are telling pollsters right now that their top concern is the economy.  And if you’re a senior citizen, living on the fixed income of a social security check, it’s personal.  AARP volunteer advisor Gene McManoway recently helped staff the tables at a job fair.

“We had a lot of AARP members, well beyond 50 plus, and they’re looking for work now.  Some people are concerned if they can make it, especially if you’re trying to live on a small pension plan and your 401k is going down in value,” says McManoway.

McManoway says that seniors will be lining up at the polls to choose candidates who can restore value to their retirement accounts or ensure their pensions and social security aren’t squandered.  He says health care is also a concern.

“As far as the health care costs, we all know how that’s going. It’s not just a social security or Medicare issue.  It’s just an effect.  Because the cost is going up even for some employers as they’re getting out of it. And now we have lay offs – makes it even worse,” McManoway says.

The nation’s economy will also be driving younger Louisvillians to their voting places.  Young Professionals Association of Louisville board member Peter Wayne:

“It’s our generation’s first real experience of not knowing what the future’s going to hold.  And it may not necessarily be as bright as what we have today,” says Wayne.

Wayne says congressional candidates have spent too much time talking about national issues and not enough time addressing the local issues young professionals care about…like securing funding for public transportation and downtown revitalization.

“The young professional loves the idea of being able to work and live and play all in the same area. You know I think our nation in total has seen a major change from the suburban lifestyle,” Wayne says.

Those concerns could hold more sway this election as record numbers of younger voters have registered.  League of Women Voters head Teena Halbig also says she’s helped register more women, more minorities, and more newly naturalized citizens. She says voters want to participate in what they perceive as a dramatic contest.

“Some people want to vote because this is going to be a really historic election and they want to remember that forever that they voted when an African American ran, when a woman ran,” says Halbig.

Some of Louisville’s Catholic voters may still be agonizing over their choices.  Catholic Conference of Kentucky head Reverend Patrick Delahanty has been making presentations to congregations about the church’s values and how members can vote with their faith. He says that while the presidential candidates may have distinct positions on abortion, their positions on what Reverend Delahanty says is the bigger issue, human dignity—shunning war, lifting up the poor—aren’t as clear cut for Catholics.

“And they’re trying to figure out, ‘which way do I go here?’ ‘What do I do to both promote these values, and who’s going to best carry this out?’  There is a struggle,” Rev. Delahanty says.

In the African American community, Louisville NAACP chapter president Raul Cunningham says the economy is the strongest motivator, just like it is among people from other backgrounds in Louisville.  But there’s another factor.

“We will have a larger turnout than usual in the African American Community.  And one of the reasons is that for the first time in history there is an African American running for president of the United States,” Cunningham says.

Nationwide polls also show that voters are concerned about the war in Iraq as well as the nation’s dependence on oil.  Regardless of what gets them to the polls, voter turnout is expected to reach record levels.

Local News

100,000+ Absentee Ballots Expected this Election

Kentucky officials expect to count more than 100,000 absentee ballots this general election.  Many of those ballots will be mailed back from members of the military serving overseas.  But Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Les Fugate says absentee ballots will also be cast by people with demanding work schedules, such as nurses.    He says the Secretary of State would like to see absentee balloting available to even more voters.

“In Kentucky you still have to have an excuse.  Secretary Grayson has fought to free that burden up so that anyone could vote without excuse for an absentee ballot,” says Fugate.

Fugate says the option of voting absentee has increased voter turnout.  Absentee ballots can be obtained from county clerks’ offices.

Local News

Kentucky Likely to Have Record Number of Voters

Kentucky will likely have a record number of registered voters in the upcoming general election.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Les Fugate says his office has been flooded with voter registration cards.

“The State Board of Elections has basically had to put all of their staff onto processing these voter registration cards,” says Fugate. “And through different county clerk’s offices throughout the state, we’ve heard they’ve increased staff as well as extended their time, some of the counties up in northern Kentucky are having their county clerks working twelve hour shifts, just to get all the cards processed in time.”

As of September 15th, there were just under 2.9 million voters in Kentucky, which is in itself a record.

But Fugate says that number is constantly changing up to the deadline. Final numbers will be available about a week after the voter registration deadline, which is Monday.