Hi, this is Kelly Smith in Bourbonnais, Illinois, just calling in to give my take on the voting. My two small children and I were in line this morning at 5:45 and the lines were wrapped around, and everybody was really having great energy and seemed really happy to be there. It's a great day to be an American.
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Polls are opening now in Colorado, which has long been a solid red state, but it looks to be trending Obama's way. Although it's not clear exactly what's going to happen, almost half of Colorado's registered voters have already voted because of early voting.
Let's check in with Rocky Mountain News radio reporter, Bente Birkeland, a reporter from Rocky Mountain Community Radio. Bente, thanks for joining us.
First of all, what are you seeing?
Well, I’m at a recreation center in Denver in a largely Hispanic neighborhood. Lines this morning were about 40 people deep. People are still filing in. Polls just opened a couple minutes ago. And people seem pretty energized. A lot of people have voted early this year. One man I talked to, who was actually the first person in line, he's tried to vote two times already. His mail-in ballot never arrived.
The city and county of Denver lost about 15,000 mail-in ballots. So people requested them and they just didn't get them. So he tried to vote by mail. Then he tried last week to go vote early, but the lines were just so long, he couldn't wait for several hours.
So today, you know, he got here at about 6 a.m. and he ended up being the first person in line. So this was his last chance, and he didn't want to take any chances. He wanted to make sure he could vote today.
I mean, that's an amazing story of somebody who wasn't going to give up, no matter what. Let's talk about the polling in Colorado for a moment. The general consensus is Obama is up by anywhere from 4 to 7 points on statewide polls. What are you seeing in the hours leading up to the polls opening?
You know, what we've seen in Colorado is a really strong ground game by Obama's campaign. He has a lot of offices, lots of mailers, phone calls are going out to people. A lot of people who are volunteering are saying it's just very well organized. So the ground game here is very strong.
You know, this particular polling location that I'm, that I'm at - that I'm at is, is more of a Democratic area. So the people on line were talking about the economy and wanting change and wanting something new, which isn't surprising, given where this, this demographic is.
Any — any indication that ballot measures there in Colorado are driving people to the polls, in addition to the enthusiasm for the presidential candidates?
I don't really think so. I think people are pretty energized by the presidential race. I think the one ballot initiative that might drive a certain demographic is Amendment 48 and what that would do is define personhood from the moment of conception. And it's the first ballot initiative of this kind ever in the country, and so it would essentially give a fertilized human egg the same state constitutional rights as a person. And the goal for the proponents is to get this in the court system and eventually overturn Roe v Wade.
So I think for the social value conservative voter, kind of the James Dobson ilk [?] in the Colorado Springs area, in particular, I think those people may be driven to the polls by this personhood amendment.
You know, McCain did not win the caucuses in Colorado, so he - he wasn't the first choice for Colorado Republicans. Mitt Rommey was. So a lot of people weren't that energized by McCain. Once he picked Sarah Palin, that conservative base did get energized. But I think that this personhood amendment will also draw some of them to the polls.
Well, if it's close, that could be decisive. Bente Birkeland, a reporter from Rocky Mountain Community Radio at the La Alma Recreation Center in Denver, Colorado. Thanks so much for joining us.