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Down to the Wire: Maine Campaigns Make Final Push
11/05/2012   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

With a little more than 12 hours before the polls open in many Maine communities, the political party machines are putting on one final press to ensure that registered voters cast their ballots. This year, an open U.S. Senate seat, control of the state Legislature and a decision on same-sex marriage are expected to draw voters to the polls in Maine. A.J. Higgins has more.

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Get out the vote 1

At Republican headquarters in Lewiston (above), volunteers are working the phones with a single mission: to get voters to the polls on Tuesday.

"Hi there, is this Harry?" says Paulee Willette, "Hi Harry. This is Paulee calling and I'm volunteering today for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. We're just reminding people that your vote is very important in this election. Have you voted yet, Harry."

Willette (below, at left), of Sabattus, says she's met Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney twice. And six weeks ago, she set a goal for reaching as many Maine voters as she could.

get out the vote 2"We're down to the nitty-gritty. It's like every vote's going to count," Willette says. "I have been here since we opened headquarters. What is it? A month and a half now, about? I will make 5,000 calls today, by the end of today."

Through these phone banks, as well as e-mails, tweets, Facebook messages and good old-fashioned sign-waving demonstrations on busy intersections, both Republicans and Democrats are pushing hard to get at least a 70 percent voter turnout in Maine.

That's the number achieved four years ago during the last presidential election. At Republican State Headquarters in Augusta, spokesman David Sorensen says across the state, GOP volunteers are going door to door. When it comes to voter awareness, says Sorensen, nothing beats boots on the ground.

"Absolutely - it will always be a vital part of our GOTV (get out the vote) effort," Sorensen says. "It's not just a matter of reminding people to vote. It's a matter of making sure they're able to - if they need a ride or some other assistance in getting out to vote."

Democrats, of course, are using some of the very same strategies.

"Hi, how are you? I'm Dale McCormick and I'm just going to door to door to encourage people to vote." Democrats like former state Treasurer Dale McCormick are pounding the pavement against a chilling wind to bang on doors for her party's candidates.

McCormick, who was first elected as a state lawmaker in 1990, says the process of identifying voters has changed dramatically since she started in politics. On this outing, she is armed with a clipboard filled with very detailed information about voter activity.

"My understanding of what this universe is that I have in my clipboard is people who have said to the candidate that they are leaning towards them or going to vote for them - in this case, Doreen Sheive," McCormick says. "And then added to that, a mysterious group of people that have been targeted demographically as likely voting for the Democrat."

State Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant says these are helping the party meet its voter notification goals.

"We actually spoke with over 15,000 people just over the weekend," Grant says. "Today we have 700 volunteers doing phone calls and canvasing neighborhoods in our targeted areas. We expect to reach at least 15,000 more people today and tomorrow, and probably more than that."

Megan Sanborn, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office, says elections officials are predicting a turnout of 65 percent to 75 percent of the state's voting population.

Photos by Patty Wight.


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