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ELECTION WATCH: Obama plays hoops, Romney’s lunch

Poll workers EvPrengright Roxanne Blancero center Carole Sevchuk try start an optical scanner voting machine cold dark polling statitent MidlBeach

Poll workers Eva Prenga, right, Roxanne Blancero, center, and Carole Sevchuk try to start an optical scanner voting machine in the cold and dark at a polling station in a tent in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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Updated: November 6, 2012 11:23PM



Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:

SO MANY RACES

One particular race — the one for the right to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — gets the most attention on Election Day. There are thousands of others, too, of course.

The Associated Press tabulates results in 4,818 contested races, including 379 statewide races, nationwide.

That’s in addition to declaring thousands of uncontested races. There are even 13 uncontested contests for the 435-seat U.S. House of Representatives.

Tuesday’s races include 33 spots in the Senate and 11 governorships.

The AP also will tally 177 statewide ballot measures, along with state legislative races in 44 states, hundreds of state constitutional offices, judicial and mayoral races, many local ballot measures — and on and on it goes.

When does this start to wrap up? The first polls close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky at 6 p.m. EST. The last, in a small sliver of Alaska, shuts at 1 a.m. EST.

— Don Rehill

PAUSING FOR HOOPS

President Barack Obama has paused his Election Day schedule for a moment for something he loves — basketball.

The president’s motorcade made a 10 minute drive to Attack Athletics, a sports complex, to play hoops with friends and staff. Dozens of people lining the streets waved and cheered as Obama made his way to the complex.

Among those playing alongside the president: Mike Ramos, a childhood friend from Hawaii, and Marty Nesbitt, a friend from Chicago.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

QUICKQUOTE: SEEKING GOD’S HELP

“Dear God in heaven America vote Mitt Romney Paul Ryan Republican and save America.” — Classic rocker Ted Nugent on Twitter.

— Sandy Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/APSandy

PRE-ELECTION NERVES

Politicians on the ballot Tuesday aren’t the only people praying for landslide margins. Election administrators hope for them too.

Take Jane Platten, director of the elections board in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the most populous county in the critical battleground state with about 928,000 registered voters.

Platten says she is confident in her county’s system of paper ballots that run through a scanner. She worries more about problems she calls “environmental” — like when one of her poll workers got in a fight with a voter, head-butted him and bit his nose last year. Or bad weather, like the ice storm that hit the area on presidential primary day in March 2008. Those types of problems keep her up at night, she says.

When an election is as close as the presidential contest is expected to be in Ohio, even the little distractions can make a difference, says elections expert Kimball Brace, president of the Washington-based consulting firm Election Data Services.

“Any tiny little thing can throw things off,” he says.

— Jennifer C. Kerr

CHRISTIE’S PLAIN TALK

Count on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to put it plainly.

Some complaints and confusion arose after a last-minute provision in his state allowed people displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote via email or fax.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s New Jersey office asked a judge to intervene in the email voting process in Essex County, saying about two dozen voters complained they had not received their ballots.

An election official in Hudson County said a backlog was created by voters requesting email ballots even though they weren’t forced from their homes by the storm.

Christie, as is his wont, put the matter in simple terms during his briefing Tuesday.

“If you haven’t been displaced by the storm, get off your butt and go vote,” Christie said. “I voted. There’s no reason anybody else shouldn’t vote. I’m pretty busy.”

— Geoff Mulvihill — Twitter http://twitter.com/GeoffMulvihill

BIDEN’S CLEVELAND VISIT

Vice President Joe Biden enjoyed lunch Tuesday at Cleveland’s Landmark restaurant, a greasy spoon that often attracts factory workers, municipal employees and regulars from a neighborhood of African Americans, eastern Europeans, Middle Eastern immigrants and Spanish speakers.

Biden, accompanied by his wife and other family members — including several grandchildren — stopped at the blue-collar lunch counter to eat and shake hands in the ethnic Cleveland neighborhood.

“It’s the iconic Cleveland restaurant,” Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman said.

— Matt Rourke

‘GANGNAM STYLE,’ OBAMA STYLE?

Yes, those hard-hitting questions keep coming for the candidates, even on Election Day: President Barack Obama was asked by one interviewer Tuesday about the “Gangnam Style” dance craze.

During a radio spot with WZID-FM in New Hampshire, the commander in chief was pressed on whether he and first lady Michelle would do a rendition of the South Korean rapper PSY’s hit, which has hundreds of millions of views on YouTube.

“I just saw that video for the first time,” Obama replied. “I think I can do that move. But I’m not sure that the inauguration ball is the appropriate time to break that out.”

“Maybe,” he concluded, “do it privately for Michelle.”

— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

ART OF THE CALL

Ever wonder how a news organization calls a race at poll closing, when not one single vote has been counted?

For landslide elections, exit polls sometimes provide enough data to determine the winners. Workers stand outside polling places, asking voters to fill out confidential questionnaires about how they voted.

For more competitive races, analysts may use vote tallies from randomly selected voting precincts to supplement data from the exit polls. Workers report vote totals soon after the polls close, giving analysts a quick look at how the election is shaping up in that state.

For races that are even more competitive, news organizations rely on the AP vote count, the only national source of election results in all U.S counties and other vote-reporting jurisdictions. The AP is deploying more than 5,000 workers today to collect vote results and report them to news organizations — and the public — around the world. The AP will report results for nearly 7,000 races.

Government officials get the final say. Congress verifies the Electoral College votes for president and vice president, while state and county officials certify local election results.

— Stephen Ohlemacher — Twitter http://twitter.com/stephenatap

ROMNEY’S LUNCH

For those of you wondering, this nugget just in from Romney’s Wendy’s visit: He ordered a quarter-pounder (no cheese), chili and a Frosty.

It’s been a long few days for sure. “He’s kind of operating on fumes,” Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, tells the AP, speaking about the presidential candidate and their hectic schedule.

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

THE SCENE IN HOBOKEN

Standing in front of a pile of junked refrigerators, a flood-destroyed car and a curbside mountain of waterlogged debris in front of his Hoboken home on Tuesday morning, Anthony Morrone didn’t even realize it was Election Day. Since immigrating to New Jersey in 1967, the 76-year-old retired mechanic had never missed a vote. Until today.

“No time, no time to vote, too much to do,” Morrone said, rattling off a list of things he needed to do after Superstorm Sandy ravaged his home last week, including mucking out the first floor, ripping out drywall, scooping Hudson River debris out of his driveway in a home a good quarter mile from the river. “Too much going on,” he added.

At Hoboken’s city hall, an American flag was draped over the railing where a huge board covered with handwritten instructions on where to get ice, hot food or other types of assistance was flanked by a printed sign saying “vote here.” A steady stream of voters were climbing the steps, despite the FEMA and National Guard trucks that still form a ring around the building a week after the storm.

— Samantha Henry — Twitter http://twitter.com/SamanthaHenry

TASTE OF DEMOCRACY

It’s not at all scientific, but it is delicious: A Roseville, Minn., bakery is offering Obama and Romney cookies to test its customers’ preference in the presidential race.

Roseville Bakery owner Amy Johnson says she’s done her cookie poll in the past two elections, and it correctly predicted the winner both times.

It boosts cookie sales, too. Customer Muriel Sharpe read about the cookie poll online and when she heard Obama was behind, she drove in Tuesday morning and snatched up two dozen Obama cookies.

She passed some out to other customers. Then she bought eight more.

Despite her efforts, Romney still held an 830-to-731 lead over Obama in cookie sales.

Johnson says the political cookies have sparked some heated discussion between customers and gotten her young staff more engaged in what’s going on.

— Amy Forliti — Twitter http://twitter.com/amyforliti

QUICKQUOTE: RAPPER’S ELECTION MATH

“I’m voting today for Obama...... Why? Because i just don’t TRUST Romney. If you disagree with me...All you have to do is vote for Romney and cancel out my vote. (hash)ELECTIONMATH” — Actor-rapper Ice T on Twitter.

— Sandy Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/APSandy

VOTING IN THE DARK

On New York City’s Staten Island, voters lined up outside dark tents to vote in areas still without power after Superstorm Sandy. In the Jersey Shore community of Little Egg Harbor Township, voters cast ballots in a mobile polling station dubbed the “vote-a-bago”, just one week after Sandy devastated towns and cities along the state’s coastline.

Check out two AP videos:

The first: http://bit.ly/SUBf3k

The second: http://bitly.com/UgLWBT

— Mary Clare Jalonick — Twitter http://twitter.com/MCJalonick

AUTHOR’S ADVICE: VOTE

Judy Blume has been writing for young readers for decades, and she posted an election-day message to them on Facebook.

“I’m voting because voting is a privilege and I’ve never missed an election since I turned 21 and got the right to cast my vote. (Yes, you had to be 21 to vote then),” the author writes. “It makes me crazy when I hear young people say elections have nothing to do with them. I’ve got news for you if you think this election has nothing to do with your life. It has everything to do with your life.”

Blume says the issues most important to her this election are women’s rights, the environment, health care, foreign relations and “to have a say in who will be appointed to the Supreme Court.”

“I’m voting for the candidate I trust more,” she says.

— Sandy Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/APSandy

TARMAC FOOTBALL

While Paul Ryan rode off in a motorcade with running mate Mitt Romney, Janna Ryan stayed behind on the Tarmac and tossed the football with her children, their cousins and her brother-in-law Tobin Ryan.

Even in a maroon shift dress and knee-high boots with heels, she has a tight spiral.

— Philip Elliott — Twitter http://twitter.com/Philip—Elliott

TWO SHIPS PASSING

Here’s an odd moment just in from Election Day, courtesy of AP’s Philip Elliott, traveling by plane with GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. He reports:

“Ryan wheels down in Cleveland. On final descent, VP Biden’s motorcade could be seen out the right windows pulling away from Air Force Two.”

Biden made an unannounced stop in Cleveland a bit ago, placing him and Ryan, his rival for the vice presidency, in very close proximity on Election Day in the very competitive state of Ohio.

— Philip Elliott — Twitter http://twitter.com/Philip—Elliott

BIDEN DETOUR

This just in from AP reporters with Vice President Joe Biden: He’s made an unannounced stop in Cleveland en route to Chicago.

ELECTION DAY OFF

If you make cars in Detroit, the odds are reasonably good you have today off.

Employees of all three Detroit automakers have had presidential election days off for years. The United Auto Workers union says it negotiated the day in 1999, and it took effect in 2000.

All three companies extended the day off to salaried workers.

— Tom Krisher — Twitter http://twitter.com/tkrisher

QUICKQUOTE: ‘A SPIRITED CAMPAIGN’

“I also want to say to Gov. Romney, congratulations on a spirited campaign. I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic, working just as hard today. We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win.” — President Barack Obama speaking to reporters in Chicago.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

BURGERS VS. OMELETTES

France’s version of the U.S. Election Day is playing out ... on the plate.

For 24 hours, the popular Breakfast in America diner in central Paris is offering two special additions to the menu: an Obama Burger and a Romney Omelette. The owner will count how many dishes are sold by the end of the day and the U.S. election winner, as decided by French palates, will be declared.

One problem: The Obama Burger is bursting with sausages and pickles, whereas the Romney Omelet is plain and simple — almost guaranteed to sell less.

“This morning we had some customers from America who were very unhappy. They were Romney supporters and were offended,” says diner owner Craig Carlson, a U.S. citizen from California.

“We tried to explain it’s just a joke and we tried to put a little slant on it. (Romney) always says he is a regular American, a plain American.”

— Thomas Adamson — Twitter http://twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

CELL-FREE ZONE

If you’re voting in Washington, D.C., better put your phone away.

Many early morning voters in the nation’s capital ended up talking with their neighbors as they waited in long lines to vote, because they were not allowed to check their cell phones. Poll workers offered no explanation for the rule.

— Eileen Sullivan — Twitter http://twitter.com/esullivanap

VOTING FOR TWO

A pregnant suburban Chicago woman didn’t let being in labor stop her from voting in her first presidential election.

Cook County Clerk David Orr reports that 21-year-old Galicia Malone’s water had broken and her contractions were about five minutes apart. But Orr says she still made the detour en route to the hospital to vote this morning at the polls at New Life Celebration Church in Dolton, Ill.

No word yet on if the baby was born.

— Tamara Starks — Twitter http://twitter.com/tbstarks

RYAN AT THE POLLS

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has cast his ballot — at the Janesville library in Wisconsin.

Ryan, wife Janna and his three children arrived at the Janesville library to vote in a presidential race that entered its final day on Tuesday.

Ryan did not wait in line and made his way to the front of the line. He greeted poll workers with hugs and asked one man, “Coach,” if he was in touch with mutual friends.

Ryan was then heading to campaign stops in Ohio and Virginia before an election night rally with Mitt Romney in Boston.

— Philip Elliott — Twitter http://twitter.com/Philip—Elliott

EDITOR’S NOTE — Follow AP journalists on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.



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