Elections 2012: Early Returns Mean Nothing ... Except as a Graphic Novel

Mark Trahant
11/6/12

The first returns are in: Results from two small towns in New Hampshire.

The standings according to Boston.Com: “The polls opened and closed within 43 seconds in Dixville Notch, where Obama and Romney each received 5 votes. In Hart’s Location, Obama won with 23 votes, Romney received 9 and Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1 vote. Voting there took 5 minutes, 42 seconds.”

Speaking of early voters, The Associated Press says some 30 million people have already voted and folks on both sides are claiming those voters.

The AP says more Republicans voted early in Colorado – 37 percent to 35 percent – while more Democrats voted early in Florida by a three-point margin there. And Democrats were far ahead (at least in taking out ballots) in Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio.

But one problem is that not everyone who takes out an early ballot actually votes. Michael P. McDonald, a professor at George Mason University and part of the U.S. Elections Project, says that Democrats are taking the last step. “Both figurative and literally, registered Democrats are leaving requested mail ballots on the table. Democrats are returning the mail ballots at a lower rate than Republicans, leading to wide disparities among the ballots that have been cast compared to the ballots that are still sitting on kitchen tables across the country,” he writes in The Huffington Post.

Numbers that “will give the Obama campaign heartburn” are 40,601 unreturned ballots in Iowa and 406,634 unreturned ballots in Florida. “Iowa is not reporting their ballot status in the same way as Florida, but we know that among all ballots cast – both by mail and in-person – registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 261,166 to 198,130,” McDonald writes. “And while that may look like a comfortable margin, keep in mind that Iowa Republicans have historically voted in-person on Election Day in large numbers; John Kerry won the Iowa early vote in 2004, but lost the state.”

One early return worth noting: Republicans are complaining about ballot fraud. RedState has a post that says “Democrats have dusted off their 2004 playbook and trying to steal the election.” The evidence is that GOP inspectors are “being thrown out of polling locations in several wards.”

And now for something completely different: If the election has become a bore, consider reading it as a graphic novel.

The Guardian has distilled the entire process into an interactive novel that captures just about every twist and turn from the past few months. And better yet: It’s entertaining. I won’t give away the ending, except to say, there’s more to come.

Scene from The Guardian's Graphic Novel:

The Guardian Graphic Novel Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.

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