Sunday, October 31
Final factor: who will turn out voters
By Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor. November 1, 2004

COLUMBUS, OHIO – As President Bush and Sen. John Kerry hurtle into the final two days of the presidential race, the campaign has in some ways already moved out of their hands - and into the hands of people like Regina Weinhardt.

Ms. Weinhardt, a stay-at-home mother of three in Thornbury Township, Pa., spent much of the weekend at the Hilltop Pub, a temporary headquarters for the Republican Party's get-out-the-vote drive in Delaware County, dialing up likely Bush voters and reading from a script reminding them to vote.

A first-time volunteer, she admits that cold-calling strangers isn't easy - and at first she was relieved to get answering machines. But with deep concerns about terrorism and "morality" issues like abortion, she feels she has no choice but to be involved: "I've never felt this strongly before."

OHIO VOTES: Sandi Baumert calls voters from Bush-Cheney headquarters in Ohio.
Photo: Andy Nelson - STAFF

With polls showing the race still neck and neck - and with very few undecided voters left - strategists on both sides now agree that whoever does a better job at getting supporters to vote will probably win. The campaigns, along with a number of outside groups, are boasting the largest turnout operations in history, with hundreds of thousands of volunteers working the phones and going door to door in key battleground states. The overall effect is already clear in the vast increase in newly registered voters and, more recently, in high participation in early voting in states that allow it.

But while all this activity is aimed at electing a candidate, it may also have a broader cultural effect, simply by involving millions - volunteers and the voters they contact - in a massive exercise in civic participation of a kind not seen in decades. ... [...more]

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