Monday 5 November 2012

US 2012: Obama, Romney battle neck and neck •How Electoral College works •I love Obama, says 99-yr-old woman voting for first time

altRomney, left vs Obama

Americans elect new president today •Obama, Romney target key states in scramble for votes•Neck and neck battle in states determining who wins the White House•Obama leading in Ohio, Florida •Romney has an edge in Colorado •27 million people already voted

Seyi Gesinde, with agency reports, captures developments, as they unfold in today’s election, as the incumbent President Barack Obama and his Republican contender, Mitt Romney, locked in neck and neck battle in the race to the White House.
President Barack Obama of the Democratic Party and his Republican contender, Mitt Romney, are now engaged in the final battle to the White House, as Americans go to the polls todays.
Both candidates are reportedly in neck to neck  race, after a final sprint through crucial states that will decide who wins the presidential election.
Poll after poll over the weekend confirmed it would be one of the closest presidential elections in US history, putting the two White House contenders in a dead heat.
The pair were neck and neck in four swing states which are likely to determine the winner of the White House, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
In one of the biggest prizes of the election, Ohio, Mr Obama has a slight lead over Romney with 48 per cent compared to 44 per cent support among likely voters, the poll showed. On Saturday Obama had been ahead by a point in the same poll.
In Florida, another big prize, Obama was on 48 per cent and Romney on 46 per cent. In Virginia, Obama leads Romney 47 per cent to 46 per cent among likely voters. In Colorado, the candidates were tied.
According to reports, nationally, 48 per cent said they would vote for Obama and 47 per cent for Romney, and given the closeness of the race, it means the result is now down to which party can ensure their supporters get to polling stations in the ten or so ‘battleground’ states.

More than 27 million people have already voted in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
So far, Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. Republicans have the edge in only one swing state, Colorado, which Obama won in 2008.
Both sides said they were confident of victory as their candidates flitted back and forth across the US trying to fit in as many target states as possible.
altBut in what Republicans claimed was an illustration of Romney’s growing popularity – and Democrats said was a ‘desperate ploy’ to stave off defeat, the challenger has started targeting states that were previously seen as safely pro-Obama.
On Sunday, Romney not only stopped off in swing states, Virginia and Ohio, but also in Pennsylvania and Iowa, two states where Democrats have far more registered supporters.
Speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Romney said the President had fallen short of his promises and vowed the country was ‘two days from a new beginning’ and ‘a better future’.
He told supporters: ‘We’re Americans. We can do anything. The only thing that stands between us and some of the best years we can imagine is a lack of leadership – and that’s why we have elections.’
Making use of the presidential plane, Air Force One, Obama was able to stop off in four battleground states, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado, on Sunday.
He has been joined in these final rallies by Bill Clinton, who has put aside his previous bitterness at the way Obama deprived his wife, Hillary of the party nomination in 2008.
On Saturday night in Virginia, Clinton attacked Romney’s habit of shifting positions on key issues, saying: “He could be the chief contortionist for Cirque du Soleil.”
Despite the narrow gap separating the candidates in most polls, Obama is clinging to a narrow lead in a majority of swing states. Most pundits suspect this will give him a crucial advantage today.
Attention remains focused on one battleground state above all others. According to the number crunchers, Romney will find it very difficult to win the 270 votes he needs in the electoral college that decides the victor unless he carries Ohio.
But polls have shown this midwestern state, many of whose voters rely for jobs on a car industry which the President bailed out, remains in favour of Obama by at least three percentage points.
More than eight in ten voters across the globe would keep Obama as President if they had a say in the US elections, a major poll has found.
The MSN survey of more than 570,000 people in 36 countries found that only 19 per cent favoured Romney.
The only country that preferred him was China, giving him 52 per cent of the vote. In Britain, Obama took 85 per cent of the vote.
Stage set for Senate, House, governorship electionToday, Americans will also vote for hundreds of legislators in the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as 13 governors.
Any legislation must be passed in identical form by both the House and Senate before it is signed into law by the president.
House of Reps
All 435 seats in the House are up for election every two years. Each state has a number of congressional representatives, apportioned by population, a figure that is updated every 10 years based on results of the US census.
Republicans hold 240 seats, the Democrats 190, and five seats are vacant.
The class of 2010 saw a record 100 "freshmen" sweep into the House, largely on a Republican wave. In total there are 76 women members, 30 Hispanic-Americans, 43 African-Americans and nine Asian-Americans. Boehner seems almost certain to keep his job, as Democrats would need to gain at least 25 seats to take control.
Law dictates that all revenue-raising legislation originate in the House, but like other bills it must also pass the Senate.
In the case of a tie in the state-by-state electoral college in the presidential election, the vote goes to the House, where delegations from each of the 50 states cast the deciding votes.
The Senate
The Senate's 100 members serve six-year terms, and one third of the seats are up for election every two years. Each state, regardless of size, has two senators. Tiny Delaware, with less than one million people, has the same representation in the Senate as California, with its 38 million residents.
Democrats currently hold 51 seats, plus two independents who caucus with the party, while Republicans hold 47.
By Constitutional authority, the vice president serves as president of the Senate, but can only vote in order to break a tie.
No Republican senator, for instance, voted for the president's health care reform bill in late 2009, and McConnell stated in 2010 that Republicans' "top political priority" should be to prevent Obama's re-election.
The Senate is responsible for confirming the president's Supreme Court nominees, as well as candidates to be federal judges, US ambassadors, and for other key posts. Seventeen women and two Hispanics serve in the Senate  there are currently no African-American Senators.
Governor’s election
Also on November 6, 11 US states and two US territories will elect governors. Nine of the governorships up for grabs are currently held by Democrats and four by Republicans.
US election: States to watch out for
As voters head to the polls across the United States today, the results from some states will be watched more closely than others. Under the United States election system, the presidency is determined not by who receives the most votes nationwide but by who captures the most number of weighted votes assigned to each state.
10 swing states to watch out for
Ten swing states, where the outcome is not a foregone conclusion, provide the key to reaching the 270 votes in the country’s electoral college needed to win the presidency.
The state in the mountainous western United States was a longtime Republican stronghold until President Barack Obama won Colorado’s nine electoral votes in 2008. Democrats control the state’s congressional delegations and serve as governor, but Mitt Romney has a slight edge in opinion polls in the state. He could benefit from a strong, usually Republican-leaning, evangelical Christian community as well as anti-government sentiment in the state.
The largest swing state with 29 electoral college votes, Florida’s importance was demonstrated most dramatically in the 2000 election that saw a small margin of votes in the state hand the presidency to Republican George W. Bush instead of Democrat Al Gore.
The southern sun has lured many retirees to the state, so proposals about health care for seniors and pensions are particularly hot topics for candidates.
The state’s large Hispanic population could also be key, with Obama seeking to woo the key voting bloc even as many older Cuban-American tend to vote Republican. Mr. Obama carried the state in 2008, but the candidates are tied in recent polls.
The central state of Iowa has just six electoral votes, but receives an unusual amount of attention from candidates in part because of its key first-in-the-nation vote during the primary season that prompts most politicians to launch their campaigns there.Obama leads in polls, but recent contests have shown the state to be narrowly divided.
North Calorina
The southern state, with 15 electoral votes, favours Romney with its many socially conservative voters. Obama narrowly won the state, with its large African American population, in 2008, but opinion polls show Romney leading this time around.
New Hampshire
The small north-eastern state, pulls above its weight politically despite having just four electoral votes. The state held the campaign season’s first true primary contest in January and both candidates have spent considerable time here. Romney owns a summer home in the state and was the governor of neighbouring Massachusetts, but Obama crushed Republican John McCain by a large margin in 2008.
The desert western state with six electoral votes was hard hit by the financial crisis, witnessing a wave of home foreclosures and unemployment far above the national average. Some 12.1 per cent of Nevadans were unemployed in August, and dissatisfaction with the economy could help Romney. However, the state’s large Hispanic population pushed the state into Mr. Obama’s column in 2008 and could help him again.
The north-eastern state brings the winner a nice haul of 20 electoral votes, but has not given them to a Republican since 1988. Though the state leans Democratic, it has been competitive with narrow margins in recent elections. The large cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are strongholds for Obama, but the central rural part of the state could bring many votes to Romney.
The key state of Ohio mirrors the United States at large with its mix of cities, suburbs and rural areas. No Republican has ever won the White House without its 18 electoral votes and no candidate – Democrat or Republican – since John F. Kennedy in 1960 has lost it and still become president. Both Obama and Romney have spent considerable time here in recent weeks and have substantial get-out-the-vote efforts.
The state with 13 electoral votes was a key part of Obama’s victory in 2008 and had not supported a Democratic candidate since 1964. The state’s northern suburbs outside US capital Washington have made Virginia more competitive with a more Democratic electorate than more conservative rural parts of the state.
The north central state of Wisconsin holds 10 electoral college votes and has been a Democratic prize in recent elections. But Romney’s vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, hails from the state and a conservative uprising over union rights that saw the state’s Republican governor survive a recall election earlier this year could mean the state is now more competitive.
Electoral College and how it works
altThe Electoral College is an obscure and little understood part of every presidential election in the United States, which some view as a stumbling block to real democracy, robbing the popular vote of importance. Others contend it ensures fairness and keeps states' power intact.
In any case, the Electoral College is tied to the popular vote and deeply influences campaigning. In the report gathered fom the United States Channels News 5, here is a look at how it works:
What is the Electoral College?
It's actually a process, not a place that (America’s) founding fathers set up in the Constitution to choose a president. They decided "electors" would pick the president as a compromise between allowing Congress to elect the nation's chief executive and allowing a vote of the people to decide who would lead the nation.
The number of electors is 538. A presidential candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes to win.
What happens in the Electoral College process?
First, each state selects electors, who can be ordinary or prominent citizens.

How they do it varies by state. After Election Day, electors get together in each state to vote for president and vice president on separate ballots. That happens December 17 in this presidential election. Finally, Congress counts the votes in a joint session January 6 to make the results official.
If the Electoral College chooses the president, does an American vote count?
When a voter goes into a polling booth and casts a ballot for president, he's actually choosing his candidate's electors. The electors have pledged to vote in sync with their state's popular vote.
Do electors have to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states?
They aren't bound by any federal provision to vote in accordance with the popular vote, but about 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws or political-party pledges restricting electors. Sometimes an elector votes against the popular vote in his state, thus earning the title "faithless elector."
Who are the electors?
They are often people who political party leaders feel have been dedicated and deserve recognition. They could be state officials, party leaders or people with special ties to a presidential candidate. Members of Congress are not eligible to be electors.
Usually, state parties nominate electors at state conventions or their executive committee votes on them.
How many electors does each state have?
Each state has the same number of electors as members in its congressional delegation. For instance, Texas has 38 electors total, equal to the state's allotment of 36 members in the House of Representatives and two senators.
Highly populated states like Texas have more electoral votes. California has the most with 55. Texas has the second most, followed by New York and Florida, each with 29. A constitutional amendment gives the District of Columbia three electors and the right to be treated like a state in the Electoral College. Three is the smallest number of electors for any state.
How is it possible for a candidate to lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College vote or vice versa?
Most states have a winner-takes-all rule, so whichever candidate receives a majority of the popular vote or what's called a plurality takes all of the state's Electoral College votes. A plurality is less than 50 percent of the popular vote but more than any other candidate.
So even if a candidate wins, for instance, just 50.1 percent of the popular vote in a state, he wins all of the electoral votes in that state. The exceptions to the winner-takes-all rule are Maine and Nebraska.
When was the last time a candidate won the popular vote but not the Electoral College vote?
In 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote by about 540,000 votes to former Vice President Al Gore. But Bush was declared the winner with 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266, following a Supreme Court ruling resulting in awarding Florida's then-25 electoral votes to Bush. But the election of a president who didn't win the popular vote is a highly unusual scenario in U.S. history.
What happens if there's a tie and each presidential candidate gets 269 Electoral College votes?
A: If no candidate gets a majority of electoral votes, then the members of the House of Representatives pick the president. Each state's congressional delegation gets a single vote — not each member. The delegations choose among the three presidential candidates who garnered the most electoral votes.
If the House doesn't elect a president by Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, then the vice president-elect chosen by US.
Obama inspires 99-year-old woman to vote for first time •After living through 24 presidential elections •Says ‘I love Obama’
Madam Rosie Lewis, has though seen 24 presidential elections in her 99 years stay in the United States, yet she has never voted for once.

But this is the first time the Florida woman has cast her ballot, Daily Mail said.

alt“I love Obama,” Ms Lewis said, crediting the President with inspiring her to finally stand up and be counted.

“I said I'm going to vote if the Lord spares my life this time,” she told NBC 2 News. “I made up my mind to vote.”

Family friend Gerri Ware registered the elderly Fort Myers resident to cast her ballot in early voting.

“I said, "Honey, when and where because I will be there,"' Ms Ware told the TV station.

The grandmother received her ballot in the post and sat in her favourite chair, with her Bible near by, as she filled it out.

Ms Ware then turned it in for her.

“She completely understands what she just did,” said her grandson, Nelson Lewis. 

“My grandmother never forgets anything.”

Rosie Lewis has lived through major turning points in American history. 

She was seven years old when the 19th Amendment passed, giving women the right to vote. 

Ms Lewis was in her 50s by the time Jim Crow laws were abolished and the Voting Rights Act 1965 enfranchised African Americans.

Though years went by and Ms Lewis failed to resonate with any candidates.

“She was already set in her ways, and wasn't really thinking about politics,” Mr Lewis said, explaining why his grandmother waited so long.

The grandmother received her ballot in the post and sat in her favourite chair, with her Bible near by, as she filled it out.
But it was President Obama's resounding win in the 2008 election that inspired her to cast her ballot for him this time around, as she nears her 100th birthday.

“She's an amazing person, 99-years-old and still has her right mind,” Mr Lewis said.

Ms Ware hopes her friend inspires others in the community who have never voted before to have their say tomorrow.

“Ms Rosie should be an inspiration to all of our young

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