Voters cast their ballots at Ward 41 in the MATC campus in downtown Madison.
Today's general election may shape up to be the most significant mid-term ballot in more than a decade, one of those rare watershed moments that can be anticipated. The clamor is reaching a crescendo, largely due to forecasts that the Democratic Party will retake the U.S. House of Representatives, and pick up seats in the U.S. Senate and state houses nationwide, a change in electoral fortunes and balance of power not seen in twelve years. Whether or not this turns out to be the case will not really be known until Tuesday night, and in that time The Daily Page plans to keep up with the flurry of activity that is Election Day in Madison and greater Dane County.
The live-blogging of Election Day 2006 follows. If you have any polling experiences or other Election Day information, please send a message with your name and report.
1:10 a.m.: The race for attorney general is tightening again. While Republican candidate J.B. Van Hollen took a five-digit lead for awhile as the returns came in, the margin between him and Kathleen Falk is now back to a mere 3,000 votes with 90% of precincts reporting.
12:42 a.m.: Brian E. Clark at WisPolitics reports that despite the victory of the advisory referendum to reinstate the death penalty, its supporter remain pessimistic that it would pass given the new make-up of the state legislature and the re-elction of Jim Doyle.
12:40 a.m.: With 82% of precincts reporting, J.B. Van Hollen has now taken the lead in the race for attorney general. He now has six thousand more votes than Kathleen Falk.
12:37 a.m.: Another statewide race that has tightened considerably is that for State Treasurer. Incumbent Republican Jack Voight was winning easily over Democratic challenger Dawn Marie Sass earlier in the evening, but now the margin between them has narrowed to a mere 5,000 votes. With 81% of precincts reporting, both candidates have just over 800,000 votes apiece.
12:35 a.m.: The race for attorney general is tightening. While Kathleen Falk was up by as many as 15,000 votes earlier in the night, the margin between her and J.B. Van Hollen has narrowed to a mere 4000 votes with 79% of precincts reporting.
12:30 a.m.: J.R. Ross at WisPolitics reports that the Democrats are projected to win the state senate. They have picked-up three seats over the night, and are poised to take a fourth. More details about Republican concessions in two districts are available here, and their election tallies are available here.
12:22 a.m.: The national results continue to roll in, with the exception a few Senate races that are running down to the wire. The Democrats have picked up 25 seats so far in the House (including Steve Kagen's victory in Wisconsin's Eighth District), and three in the Senate. Calls have yet to be made in Montana, Missouri, and Virginia, where margins remain extremely close. The Democrats lead in the former two as results continue to pile up, though, while any decision in the Virginia race between Democratic challenger Jim Webb and Republican incumbent George Allen awaits the outcome of a canvass beginning Wednesday morning. More updates are available in a live news wire published on The Hotline by the National Journal.
12:17 a.m.: One map worth noting is the CNN depiction of the county-by-county vote on the amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions. Dane County was the only one in the state with a majority of voters opposing the measure.
11:59 p.m.: Fair Wisconsin organizer Ingrid Ankerson published the formal concession speech given earlier in the evening by the group's director Mike Tate. An exceprt:
This fight against the amendment was never just about what happened today. All of us committed to a long-term struggle for equality and fairness for everyone. We cannot give up on Wisconsin, and there's good reason not to.
We know for certain that many of the same people who voted for this amendment today are the very same people who will support equality for gay families within the next 5 or 10 years. That change might not have been on the timeline forced on us by our opponents, but we cannot ignore the fact that we have laid the foundation for long-term change in Wisconsin. Because of our work, more people in this state than ever before understand that gay families exist in this state and discrimination hurts them.
We may not have won the election, but there were so many victories along the way. We achieved many things that have drastically altered attitudes about gay people, gay families, and the way we do politics around this issue. We transformed a "gay rights" issue and made it a Wisconsin issue.
Our accomplishments are not in vain.
Two and a half years ago, it was unfathomable to most people, including myself, that we could wage a strong fight against the ban.
People said we couldn't raise enough money. But we raised over $5 million from over 12,000 people to help us communicate with the people of this state.
People said we couldn't recruit the volunteers necessary, but over 10,000 of you exploded that myth from day one.
They said elected leaders wouldn't stand with us, and if they did, voters would reject them. But our leaders challenged that notion in fact, leaders like Gov. Doyle never wavered in his opposition to the amendment whether at a UAW rally or editorial board meetings in Baraboo.
Again and again, we proved the cynics wrong.
11:54 p.m.: One set of referenda that haven't received that much attention are the municipal-level referenda calling to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. Ben Broeren spoke to Rachel Friedman of the Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice at the Green Party event at Brocach Irish Pub, who is hopeful about these ballot measures in Springdale, Lake Delton, South Milwaukee, Milwaukee and Viroqua. Similar referenda are also on ballots in more than 100 municipalities in Massachusetts, as well as in 14 more in Illinois, including Chicago. Given the role that Iraq has played in driving turnout over today's election, support for these referenda is to be expected.
11:51 p.m.: Matt Dolbey at WisPolitics reports that J.B. Van Hollen has released a brief statement on the race for attorney general, urging his supporters to maintain their patience. This race remains too close to call. With nearly two-thirds of the precincts reporting, Falk is leading by about 15,000 votes, or about two points.
11:31 p.m.: Jim Doyle just completed his victory speech at the Marriott West to chants of "Four more years!"
11:28 p.m.: Rebecca Kurz at WisPolitics reports about revelry by supporters of the amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions in Wisconsin.
11:22 p.m.: Jim Doyle is currently delivering his victory speech to the crowd at the Marriott hotel in Middleton. "Now for the first time in 32 years, we have reelected a Democrat as governor of Wisconsin," he says to cheers, subsequently thanking his predecessor Pat Lucey for his service to the state. Doyle also discusses his opponent. "I just spoke with Congressman Green; he graciously, graciously conceded the election," Doyle says. "I thank him for his graciousness in reaching out to me this evening. I know this has been a difficult campaign and sometimes it got more heated than any of us wanted, but right now it's time for us to come together for Wisconsin."
11:20 p.m.: Greg Bump at WisPolitics is reporting that Russ Feingold has not yet made a decision about a presidential run in 2008 despite tonight's wave of Democratic victories.
11:15 p.m.: The JS NewsWatch reports that the advisory referendum to reinstate the death penalty in Wisconsin will pass easily. It currently has 54% of the vote with slightly over half of the precincts reporting.
11:11 p.m.: Observers project that Democratic candidate Steve Kagen will defeat his Republican challenger John Gard for the U.S. House seat in the Eight Congressional District. Kagen is up by 53% with about 57% of precincts reporting.
11:07 p.m.: The JS NewsWatch points to the CNN exit poll in the gubernatorial race, noting a major gender gap between Doyle and Green voters. Women favored the Democratic candidate by about 20 points, while men favored the Republican candidate by nearly the same amount.
11:01 p.m.: Mark Green is conceding the gubernatorial election to incumbent Jim Doyle. "A few moments ago I called and congratulated Jim Doyle on his reelection," he tells supporters at his campaign party in Green Bay. "We should be pulling together Republicans and Democrats alike to meet those challenges. I owe a lot of people a tremendous debt of gratitude. This has been an extraordinarily experience for all of us." As his speech continues, Green criticizes the Wisconsin State Elections Board for its decision to prohibit him from transferring more than $400,000 in funds to his gubernatorial campaign account.
10:55 p.m.: As election results and projections continue to come in throughout the country, enough races have been decided to determine that the Democrats have won control the U.S. House of Representatives. With this, Nancy Pelosi is set to become the first female Speaker of the House. They needed to pick up 15 seats to win the House, and by this point have won 18, three more than necessary.
10:51 p.m.: Ben Broeren reports on the scene at Brocach Irish Pub, where the Wisconsin Greens are gathering to watch election returns. The crowd there was elated by an announcement that Steve Kagen was defeating John Gard, but simultaneously frustrated by both the passage of the amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions and the advisory referendum on the death penalty. Dane County Supv. Ashok Kumar, who represents the west side of the UW-Madison campus and surrounding neighborhoods, says he wonders "whether democracy is gone when people can buy elections without ever shaking anyone's hand." Kumar is refering to Herb Kohl's overwhelming victory in the Senate race, in which Green Party candidate Rae Vogeler received 2% of the vote with nearly half of precincts reporting.
10:48 p.m.: Kara Intrieri at WisPolitics reports that Fair Wisconsin has conceded defeat.
10:38 p.m.: Vikki Kratz points to one highlight of Tammy Baldwin's victory speech: "She talked about the Fair Wisconsin vote and said it was heartbreaking that they lost. People applauded for quite a long time after that."
10:34 p.m.: There's one more polls experience to report tonight. Isthmus employee Emily Denaro describes casting her ballot shortly before the polls closed this evening:
En route to the voting station at around 7 p.m., there was a van going around asking people if they voted and if they needed a ride to get to their station.
While I was voting at the Doyle Administration building, I found the way they were running things disorganized. As someone who has never voted in this area (but who has voted in the past,) I was surprised by the lack of directions given. This was especially the case given that this site was filled with student voters, many of whom have either never ever voted or never voted in Wisconsin using this system.
I have previously used pull-lever voting machines in Connecticut. The polling stations were not watched. People walked into an auditorium seating area with lit polling stands in front of the stage. I was surprised there was a lack of curtain or a moderator to ensure that only one individual voted on one ballot. In Connecticuit, this sort of thing is considered highly private and there is an individual standing at each booth making sure that you have done it correctly, not tampered with anything, and only voted once. Since most of the people voting at this station were college kids, I wondered how many people actually knew how to vote.
Sounds silly, but many people thought they could draw the connecting lines with ball-point pens, especially since some were left in the lit voting stations. A minute or two after I took my seat to read over all the options, a woman came in and told voters that lines drawn by the ball point pens could not be read by the machines.
The number of persons who looked up questioningly was at least one-third of the room, about seven people. I finally submitted my ballot at around 7:20 p.m.
How many people unknowingly incorrectly filled out their ballot since the polls opened? With the amount of weight this election carries, I am surprised at the lax way things were handled.
10:27 p.m.: Dane County Sherrif candidate Mike Hanson recently concede the race to his opponent Dave Mahoney before delivering remarks to his supporters. He said: "It's been a great six months, and I don't regret anything. We ran against a machine, obviously, and what I'm proud of and what you folks should be proud of is that we ran a clean, ethical campaign." Hanson was quite emotional while delivering his concession speech, something that will certainly bolster his reputation as a nice guy in his work with the Madison Police Department.
10:24 p.m.: Bill Lueders reports on the scene at the Marriott in Middleton, where about 500 people are gathered at the election party for Doyle and Falk. "There hasn't been a declaration by anyone at the event that Doyle has won," Lueders says, "though most media has called the race." A report at WisPolitics notes that the crowd at the hotel cheered when Doyle's projected victory was announced on TV.
Lueders also reports that the talk at the party is that most of the returns from Milwaukee and Dane counties have not yet been counted. It is due to this, he says, that people remain hopeful about Falk's chances against Van Hollen. "The mood was somewhat celebratory about Doyle, and there's just a buzz in the air as to how Falk might pull it off," Lueders says. "I don't know how that might be, and I don't think anyone else does either.
10:18 p.m.: Tammy Baldwin is delivering her victory speech to supporters at Monona Terrace. She begins:
Thank you and good evening. Those of you who have been toiling on the campaign trail with me for some time that I regard this election as the most important election in recent memory, perhaps in my lifetime... It's really true that tonight is not a victory for our party, it is a victory for our democratic process. It's a victory for the people who decided to take back their national government and make it of, by and for the people.Baldwin also quotes from comments about the election made by Eric Trekell, who is the director of the LGBT Center at UW-Madison. These comments are available below at the 1:28 p.m. timestamp.
10:15 p.m.: Dave Magnum just conceded to Tammy Baldwin, who is leading with about three-fifths of the vote.
10:10 p.m.: Correspondents at WisPolitics are reporting that Democratic candidate Steve Kagen has a "slight edge" over his Republican opponent John Gard in District 8. Kagen is currently leading by 4 points (52% to 48%) with 40% of precincts reporting.
10:10 p.m.: J.R. Ross at WisPolitics reports that Falk's vote counts are currently trailing Doyle's in Dane and Brown counties. She's catching up to Van Hollen, though, with 49% of the vote with 30% of precincts reporting.
10:07 p.m.: Republican Dane County Sherrif candidate and Madison police spokesperson Mike Hanson just conceded to Dave Mahoney, as reported by WIBA-AM.
10:05 p.m.: J.R. Ross at WisPolitics is reporting that the AP is the latest major organization projecting a Doyle victory this evening.
9:57 p.m.: More national projections continue to roll in, particularly in U.S. House races. Democratic challenger Heath Shuler is victorious in North Carolina, as is Democratic challenger Chris Carney in Pennsylvania and Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney in Florida. He won the seat formerly occupied by disgraced representative Mark Foley. On the other hand, incumbent Republican Thelma Drake is holding onto her seat in Virginia. This is only a sampling of all national races, though, which are being called very rapidly at this point. More updates are available on a live news wire at The Hotline run by the National Journal.
9:47 p.m.: Isthmus editor Mark Eisen is at the Marriott West in Middleton where the Doyle and Falk campaigns are congregating. Should Falk be elected, her current position of Dane County Executive will be open for the taking, and there's talk of many candidates. Former Dane County Supv. Brett Hulsey has not yet decided if he will run for the seat. "I can't figure out how to be a good dad and a good county executive at the same time," he says. "I don't want my kids to put my face on a milk carton so they can find me."
Madison alder Zach Brandon says he will decided on whether or not he will run for county executive by late next week or early in the following week. The southwest side alder says he is currently focused on the city budget deliberations that will be concluded next week. Hulsey, meanwhile, mentions three other potential candidates for the Falk's seat should she become attorney general. These are Scott McDonell, who has already declared his candidacy, Nino Amato, and former county executive Jonathan Barry.
9:39 p.m.: "People here are questioning the projection," reports Isthmus staff writer Vikki Kratz from the Fair Wisconsin party at Monona Terrace. The amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions is currently passing with 60% of the vote (with 18% of precincts reporting). Due to these numbers, the AP previously projected that the amendment would pass, a claim that its opponents dispute. "People here don't feel that the race is over yet," Kratz says.
As for the party itself, the crowd continues to grow at Monona Terrace. State representative Mark Pocan is there, as was Madison mayoral candidate Ray Allen for a brief time. Kratz reports that the crowd is busy talking and drinking, with Baldwin's supporters particularily happy as she continues to lead in early returns.
9:33 p.m.: Isthmus staff writer Kenneth Burns reports from the party held by supporters of the Madison schools referendum. He says there are about 40 people gathered in the upper floor of Genna's, and the mood is very mellow yet optimistic. "School board member Arlene Silveira has a laptop to project numbers from the Dane County Clerk's office onto a screen," he reports, and the crowd gets excited when the latest numbers from the referendum are posted. At this point the referendum is passing with 68% of the vote, with 37% of precincts reporting. Other school board members in attendance include Carol Carstensen and Johnny Winston Jr.
9:30 p.m.: National media are now projecting Doyle as the winner in his bid for re-election against Mark Green. This is largely based upon exit polls provided by CNN.
9:22 p.m.: Isthmus editorial intern Ben Broeren reports from the Wisconsin Greens party at Brocach Irish Pub on the Capitol Square. "People are pretty excited," he says, with gubernatorial candidate Nelson Eisman and senate candidate Rae Vogeler optimistic that they might improve upon their party's returns in previous elections. Vogeler's big goal for the night is to break into the double digits, enough to give the Greens a seat on the state elections board. She currently has 2% of the vote with 11% of precincts reporting. As for the party, "it's pretty festive and people are just watching the results," Broeren says.
9:19 p.m.: Election projections continue to roll in from throughout the country. In terms of U.S. House seats, this includes Democratic challenger Baron Hill in Indiana, Democratic challenger Paul Hodes in New Hampshire, Democratic challenger Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, and Democratic challenger Chris Murphy in Connecticut. Incumbent Republican governor Mike Rounds in South Dakota is also victorious.
9:14 p.m.: Bill Lueders reports from the Doyle and Falk party at the Mariott in Middleton. There are about 400 people there now, with the band Madisalsa playing to the crowd. "People are somewhere between concerned and somewhat bummed with Van Hollen leading in the early returns along with the two statewide referenda," Lueders says. "I think people are starting to get bummed, particularly the Falk supporters."
9:08 p.m.: Democratic Dane County Sheriff candidate Dave Mahoney is currently leading leading his Republican opponent Mike Hanson by 57% to 43%, with nearly a quarter of the precincts reporting.
9:03 p.m.: What about Tammy Baldwin's bid for reelection? She's currently leading Republican challenger Dave Magnum with 55% of the vote with 17% of precincts reporting.
9:01 p.m.: The Associated Press is projecting that the amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in Wisconsin will pass. It currently leads with 60% of the vote with 5% of precincts reporting.
9:00 p.m.: The final polling place in Madison -- at East High School -- is now closed. Now there's just counting to do.
8:58 p.m.: J.R. Ross at WisPolitics reports on the Kohl victory party, at which the senator had yet to arrive as of nearly an hour ago.
8:55 p.m.: Alec Loftus at WisPolitics reports that Doyle campaign spokesperson Melanie Fonder is declining to declare victory in the gubernatorial race yet despite the projection by the Milwaukee TV station.
8:51 p.m.: Other national races? Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse is being called as the winner over Republican incumbent Lincoln Chaffee in the Rhode Islane senate race. Other calls for gubernatorial victors includes Republican incumbent Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Democratic candidate Martin O'Malley in Maryland, and Democratic incumbent John Baldacci in Maine.
8:46 p.m.: Isthmus staff writer Vikki Kratz reports that there's a line to get into Monona Terrace, the location of the Fair Wisconsin and Tammy Baldwin election night parties.
8:43 p.m.: The Wisconsin State Journal is projecting that incumbent Democratic senator Herb Kohl is victorious. He has about 65% of the vote with 2% of precincts reporting. This was the most predictable of all statewide races.
8:41 p.m.: What about some of the other statewide races? Here are a few numbers, with 2% of precincts reporting:
- Indumbent Democrat Herb Kohl is clobbering as expected with 67% of the vote.
- Republican Attorney General candidate J.B. Van Hollen is likewise trouncing Kathleen Falk at this point, with 60% of the vote.
- There are similar numbers for the amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, while things are closer with the advisory referendum to revive a statewide death penalty.
- Incumbents Doug LaFollette (Sec. of State) and Jack Voight (Treasurer) are also winning handily.
8:37 p.m.: WTMJ in Milwaukee is projecting a Doyle victory in the gubernatorial race. He currently has 51% of the vote with 2% of precincts reporting statewide. It is also projecting a victory for Kathleen Falk in the attorney general race, though J.B. Van Hollen is currently leading in early returns. These projections are based upon exit polls conducted earlier in the day.
8:35 p.m.: There are a couple more Democratic pick-ups in the U.S. House that have just been called; these include Indiana challenger Joe Donnelly and Kentucky challenger John Yarmuth.
8:28 p.m.: Observing the election returns at the Madison Marriott West, Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders notes the absurdity of early returns. He points to an update on WISC that noted 100% of voters were opposing the Madison schools referendum, with all of one vote. Ten minutes later, he noted that the referendum was tied 50-50 with one vote apiece. As for the party at the hotel for Doyle and Falk, he says the crowd has grown to about 300 people. "It's striking to me how little people are paying attention to the returns," he says.
8:25 p.m.: Observers are calling the Maryland Senate race for Democrat Ben Cardin over Republican Michael Steele and the Minnesota Senate race with Democrat Amy Klobuchar victorious over Republican Mark Kennedy. Meanwhile, Democrat Eliot Spitzer has been projected as winning the race for governor of New York. Other governors? Recently called victors include Arizona Democratic incumbent Janet Napolitano, Wyoming Democratic incumbent Dave Freudenthal, Texas Republican incumbent Rick Pery, and Nebraska Republican incumbent Dave Heineman.
8:19 p.m.: Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders is at the Marriott hotel in Middleton, the site of the election party for Doyle and Falk. He reports about 250 people gathering in the hall, with one large TV tuned in to CNN and the other to WISC Channel 3. "Nobody has any idea what's going on," he says. "They flashed on CNN that Lieberman was declared the winner, and no in in the hall seemed to notice.
8:17 p.m.: Observers just called incumbent Joe Lieberman as the victor of Democratic challenger Ned Lamont in the hotly contested Connecticut senatorial race.
8:15 p.m.: The first Dane County results are coming in, from the towns of Berry and Burke for starters. Both Doyle and Falk are currently leading in these most initial of results.
8:10 p.m.: Live election coverage just started on WORT 89.9 FM and WIBA 1310 AM, among many other broadcast outlets on the radio and on TV.
8:08 p.m.: Adam Collins is the campaign spokesperson for Wisconsin Attorney General candidate Kathleen Falk. She is currently at home with her family and close friends watching election results on TV, and will be headed to the Madison Marriott West as the outcome of the election becomes more clear. Collins also says the campaign is hopeful: "We've had a strong message and a strong candidate, and we certainly made the right moves and did the right things."
8:00 p.m.: All Madison polling places are now closing, with the exception of the one at East High School which will remain open until 9 p.m. Other polling locations throughout Wisconsin have closed as well. Other states with polls closing at 8 p.m. include Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wyoming, as well as remaining portions of Michigan, South Dakota, and Texas.
7:57 p.m.: The latest calls in races across the nation include victories for incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich as Illinois governor, incumbent Democrat Brad Henry as Oklahoma governor, incumbent Democrat Jennifer Granholm as Michigan governor, and incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow as a Michigan senator.
7:54 p.m.: "Our meeting ended way earlier than I even expected," says downtown Madison alder Mike Verveer of tonight's session of the Madison Common Council. The meeting ended at 6:50 p.m., after only 20 minutes. "I was happily wrong when I said the IZ study would be controversial," he says. "It wasn't, as there were no objections to the supermajority vote." Verveer notes that this wasn't the shortest meeting he's seen in his ten plus years on the council, but it nevertheless was "pretty short."
7:44 p.m.: Greg Bump at WisPolitics is reporting that things are quiet at the Madison Marriott West, where Jim Doyle and Kathleen Falk will be holding the Election Night party after the polls close. He writes:
A few supporters have gathered at the venue, watching CNN election reporting on a giant projection screen. The media has gathered in numbers, readying their equipment behind a cordoned off area facing the stage and podium backed by a Doyle-Lawton banner. An adjacent media room has also been provided adjoining the ballroom.
7:35 p.m.: Observers are now calling the Senate race in New Jersey, with Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez defeating Republican challenger Thomas Kean Jr. Over on the cable news channels, Republican pundits on Fox and MSNBC are downplaying the Democratic victories, stating that the outcome so far tonight isn't as much of a defeat for Republicans as it is a victory for conservative Democrats.
7:32 p.m.: Polls just closed in Arkansas, and some observers are now making the call in the Pennsylvania Senate race that Democratic challenger Bob Casey has defeated Republican incumbent Rick Santorum.
7:24 p.m.: More races are being called, including the first significant victory by Democratic challengers over Republican incumbents that likely foreshadow the night to come. These is Brad Ellsworth in Indiana.
7:13 p.m.: Many more calls are being made in elections throughout the country. Announced victors include Republican Jodi Rell as governor of Connecticut, Democrat Ed Rendell as governor of Pennsylvania, Democrat Deval Patrick as governor of Massachusetts, and Democrat Phil Bredesen as governor of Tennessee. What else? Incumbent senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sonny Perdue (R-GA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Trent Lott (R-MS) and Tom Carper (D-DE). None of these outcomes are surprising.
7:08 p.m.: Want more Election Night 2006 live-blogging? There are at least three more Wisconsin-based and -oriented steams. These are:
- Poll reports and election updates via Jesse Russell at Dane101.
- Media commentary and election updates via Michael J. Mathias, a Milwaukee-based Democratic activist.
- Semi-serious and semi-satirical election updates via via Paul Soglin, who is at times channeling Borat in his commentary.
7:01 p.m.: Another big Ohio race was just called, with Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown claiming victory over Republican incumbent Mike DeWine. Meanwhile, polls have just closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsvylvania, Tennessee, portions of Michigan, Texas, along with western Florida, eastern South Dakota.
6:58 p.m.: Joe Ahlers at WisPolitics reports that things remain quiet at the joint election party for Mark Green and John Gard. Nevertheless, the gubernatorial candidate's spokesperson is presenting a positive outlook.
6:53 p.m.: Though music (by Bob Manor & the Getaway Drivers and The Gomers) is of course the center of the action at the High Noon Saloon this evening, the election is on everybody's minds. "It's not really part of the show," says owner Cathy Dethmers, "but so far people are watching the TVs," which are tuned in as part of the background ambiance of the club this evening. Bob Manor has already asked concert-goers three times whether or not they have voted, and Dethmers imagines the Gomers will be doing the same thing. "We're just keeping it on so people can keep up to date," she says.
6:46 p.m.: The jaw-boning continues on the cable news channels as another race is called, this being another victory for the octogenarian incumbent Democrat from West Virginia, Robert Byrd. As Democratic leads and some early victories emerge, one of the leading subjects of speculation are the reasons there's seemingly less enthusiasm from some Republican voters this cycle; Katrina and stem cell research are cited often. The line of the night so far, at least with regards to Wisconsin, goes unsurprisingly to Keith Olbermann, who said, "Old Bob LaFollette must be smiling about Bernie Sanders."
6:38 p.m.: One of the nastiest races of this cycle is over early, as Democratic candidate Ted Strickland defeats Ohio Secretary of State (not to mention noted fundamentalist and elections supervisor) Kenneth Blackwell for the governorship of Ohio. This one is no surprise.
6:35 p.m.: Madison-based photographer Beth McConnell voted this morning in the Town of Madison. Here is her report:
I had a smooth experience at the Town of Madison Municipal Building/Town Hall this morning at 9:45 a.m., with a full parking lot (unusual for not only for election day in general, but specifically that time of day). There was only one very retired married-for-a-bazillion-years kind of couple standing in line in front of me, the male partner of which had a very miniature freak attack when he thought for a moment that the paper slips on which our ward #s were written may have been some kind of governmental voter tracking.
The volunteer at the table explained gently how no, it was not, in fact, Big Brother and instead it was their way of measuring the overall voting numbers to come through, but that the numbers preprinted on the slips were not associated in any personal way with each voter.
I had to ask a couple of workers, who then directed me to the polling place supervisor, if I could get a yellow practice ballot (as are usually available for each election) to take home with me. I wanted to bring the practice ballot (voided, diff. color) home to continue the political discussion I've been having with my 17 yr old son who will be voting next year.
The supervisor left and came back with a "real" (but VOIDED) ballot and told me that it appeared that our polling place was not given any practice ballots this time. It took probably only a total of 10 extra minutes of wait time for me and I appreciated her extra effort.
There was a roped-off aread for "voting observers" (when did such observing begin?? I just this first time noticed the seating area.) There was a suited gentleman making himself comfortable with his 3-ring binder and a book on the chair next to him.
There was a substantial line of waiting people (5-7 new people in Town/Madison equals substantial, I think) at the "New Voter" table (yay!).
And because I'm a little hormonal, when I flipped the ballot from front to back and stared my future in the eye (in that form of that first referendum question), I started crying. When the old lady next to me started looking at me a little oddly in my general direction I snuffled, pulled up my Big Girl marking pen, and completed my voting business.
6:27 p.m.: There's barely more than 90 minutes before the polls close in Madison and throughout the state of Wisconsin. Before things begin to be announced, don't forget to make wild predictions about the outcome of today's vote. Some folks are already doing so in this discussion on TDPF.
6:19 p.m.: Believe it or not, the Madison Common Council is meeting tonight, despite their regular practice of rescheduling its Tuesday meetings falling on Election Day. Since today's ballot is mostly statewide and national, though, and because the council has three special budget meetings scheduled for next week, they're meeting tonight. What's on the agenda?
Not much, luckily," says downtown alder Mike Verveer. "The only thing controversial on tonights schedule is whether or not we'll get 15 votes to fund the IZ study from the contingent reserve." These funds would run $20,000. Not everybody will be there, either, with council president Austin King and west side alder Jed Sanborn already excused from the meeting. In fact, this is the first city council meeting in about 14 months that I will not be attending due to the requirements of these updates.
Otherwise, Verveer continues, it should be a short meeting. "Luckily, there's not much on the agenda and we can get to the parties," he says. "I actually wish we didn't meet on election days, because the city could sure use more poll workers. I for one would rather have worked at the polls this evening than held a meeting."
6:08 p.m.: First calls of the night. The Hotline's live analysis wire is calling senatorial victories for Republican Dick Lugar in Indiana and independent Bernie Sanders in Vermont, along with early results from three contested districts in Kentucky.
5:56 p.m.: Stacy Forster at JS DayWatch reports that more students are voting at UW-Madison. She writes:
At eight key wards on the UW-Madison campus, more than 2,175 votes had been cast as of 11 a.m., compared with about 960 at that point in 2002. In one ward, which votes at the Memorial Library, the number of votes by 11 a.m. were up more than 200%, from 97 in 2002 to 297 this year.
5:45 p.m.: The Cap Times is also reporting on the extended polling hours at East High, and notes that the bomb threat came from a student and was unrelated to the election.
5:41 p.m.: Things are busy over at the City-County Building in downtown Madison. Madison city clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl reports that turnout has been very high throughout the city. "At 11 a.m., our numbers for turnout were about 19.3%, and at 4 p.m. they were at 39.48%," she says. "We're hearing that there are a ton of new Election Day registrations, so we've been sending out more registration forms and supplemental poll lists. We started the day out with every polling place full of registration forms, so we've gone through quite a few registrations."
Witzel-Behl also notes that the East High bomb scare was the only major glitch of the day. Otherwise, "just high turnout, which is a good thing," she says. Up until 8 p.m., her office will continue to answer phone calls with questions from voters and election officials. After the polls close, they'll wait for these officials to bring in their supplies, which will subsequently be delivered to the County Clerk's office right across the hall. At this point, the votes will be tabulated and announced.
5:35 p.m.: Isthmus employee Faith Gallup just voted on the east side of Madison. Here's her report:
I just got done voting at the Hawthorne Branch Library, and I was voter #839. It was pretty quick in and out, about 15 minute tops. I had to wait in line about 5 minutes, but that was it. The elections workers were very friendly and very nice.
5:32 p.m.: Lisa Sink at JS NewWatch reports more details about the extension of polling hours at East High School. She writes:
A Dane County circuit judge this afternoon granted the city of Madison's request for an extension of voting time, state Elections Board Executive Director Kevin Kennedy said.An attorney for the state Republican party did not object to this extension.
5:22 p.m.: Greg Bump at WisPolitics is reporting that Ed Thompson formally filed a declaration of a write-in candidacy on Monday night. This followed a message sent by the state Libertarian Party on Friday, Nov. 4 that hinted as at much at the possibility. Thompson's sideshow is pretty late to today's three-ring circus, though.
5:16 p.m.: George Twigg just announced that the polling location at Madison East High School will remain open for an extra hour this evening. He writes:
At the request of the Madison City Clerk, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Moeser has ordered that the ward 32 polling place at East High School remain open an additional hour, until 9:00 pm. This extension applies to that polling place ONLY.
5:11 p.m.: The evening election coverage is building steam on the cable news channels. They are sticking to their regular modus operandi, featuring panels of talking heads, including a common partisan imbalance favoring GOP boosters and representatives. Though conventional wisdom on cable news is a suspect commodity, the current tone on TV now is that voter turnout is high because people are frustrated with the Iraq war and government corruption. Two U.S. Senate races receiving significant attention are those in Virginia and Tennessee, with speculation running towards victories for Democratic candidate Jim Webb in the former and Republican candidate Bob Corker in the latter. GOP partisans are also promoting the talking point that a Democratic takeover of the House after tonight is not significant, and will set the Republicans up well for gains in 2008. That's called lowering expectations.
5:02 p.m.: Elections remain quite busy throughout the state, with record turnouts and various voting issues reported in Milwaukee, suburban Milwaukee, and the Fox Valley. Some of the higher-profile reports follow:
- Early this afternoon, two correspondents at WisPolitics reported that signs warning felons not to vote would be reposted at Milwaukee polling places. Some had been removed earlier in the day following complaints that they would cause confusion for felons who have already completed their probation or parole; these individuals are allowed to vote per Wisconsin law.
- Lisa Sink at the JS NewsWatch reports that voters at one Wauwatosa polling place were asked to produce IDs when it opened this morning.
- Likewise, voters in the town of Menasha in the Fox Valley were also asked to present photo IDs when voting, as reported by Sink at the JS NewsWatch.
- Lawrence Sussman at the JS NewsWatch is reports is projected to reach 75% in Ozaukee County.
- Alec Loftus at WisPolitics reports that turnout in Waukesha and Brown counties -- two of the state's largest -- are "poised to top expectations."
- All of those voters are putting a major strain on the elections system. The JS NewsWatch reports that "ballots could run short in Waukesha County."
- Meg Kissinger at the JS NewsWatch reports that Fair Wisconsin robocalls are upsetting supporters of the amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. This issue was also covered by J.R. Ross at WisPolitics early this afternoon, complete with recordings of the call.
4:44 p.m.: Things are very busy at the Madison City Clerk's office. Amidst numerous call attempts, the main phone line there has been either busy or off the hook for more than an hour now.
4:40 p.m.: UW law school professor and high-profile blogger Ann Althouse published her voting report earlier this afternoon. She wrote:
Voting was easy. There were only a couple cars in the church parking lot... I made my way down the stairs to the gym/auditorium, past the guy who was selling brownies and cupcakes to benefit the church school, got in a short line, then realized it was the unregistered voters line, and walked right up to the table with no line at all. I marked my ballot, front and back, voting for a mixture of Republicans and Democrats, and against the marriage amendment and the death penalty. On the way out, I checked out the now long line of voters waiting to register on the spot. They were all about 20 years old.
4:29 p.m.: What about bars? For starters, there's a brief discussion about options on TDPF. Then there's the High Noon Saloon, which will feature an early show by Bob Manor & the Getaway Drivers and a late edition of Rock Star Gomeroke, both of which are rumored to be accompanied by TVs bearing live election returns.
4:21 p.m.: Where are Madison's campaign parties tonight? Here are a few of the higher profile events:
- A gathering at Monona Terrace in downtown Madison for Fair Wisconsin and Tammy Baldwin.
- A gathering at Genna's on the Capitol Square for Madison CAST and other supporters of the city's schools referendum.
- A gathering at Brocach on the Square for supporters of Rae Vogeler, Nelson Eisman, and other Wisconsin Green candidates.
- A gathering at the Madison Marriott West hotel in Middleton for supporters of Jim Doyle, Kathleen Falk and other Dane County Democratic candidates.
- A gathering at the Holiday Inn West for Dane County Sheriff candidate Dave Mahoney.
- And finally, a gathering at City Center West just past the Beltline off Old Sauk Road for Mike Hanson and other Dance County Republican candidates
- Brenda Konkel reported her 8 a.m. vote at a near-east side polling place, where she was voter #121. "Hopefully this trend continues today and is similar where you vote," she writes.
- Sara Ziemendorf reported and photographed long lines at one Verona polling place.
- Lisa Subeck listed and explained her picks in eleven items on today's ballot.
- Siobhan Nassalang reports voting at 11 a.m. on the north side of Madison. "I was voter number 400," she wrote, "compared to being around the 200s on average in the past around 5 p.m."
- Jenna Pryor wrote that voting "felt really, really good." She continued: "Based on the line I had to stand in to vote, and the looks of other polling places I drove by, turnout is going to be big today."
- Mark Sadowski published a photo gallery of the polling location at the Gates of Heaven Synagogue, located at the west end of James Madison Park on Lake Mendota.
- Sadowski also published a photo of a pedestrian bridge spanning University Avenue at the east end of the UW campus. He wrote:
On my way to work, I stopped at an obvious hotspot for voting reminders, the bridge over University Avenue connecting Vilas Hall to the Humanities Building. This area was overtaken by the Fair Wisconsin people, urging drivers to honk if they are voting no on the proposed marriage amendment. The air was flooded with cheers drowned out in waves by the nearly constant sounding of horns of passing cars.
- One UW grad student reported on voting at Jefferson Middle School, where "apparently it was sauerkraut hot food day." She urges voters to check both sides of the ballot in order vote on the various referenda.
- Finally, multiple reports are continuing to come in the live election coverage at Dane101.
4:15 p.m.: Aside from the problem at East High, what other ballot and polling place issues have there been today across the county? Not much says Dane County Clerk Robert Ohlsen. "As far as I know, everybody has plenty of ballots," he says. "We have not heard that any body is running out so we have to assume that everything is cool in that department. There haven't been that many issues during the day."
Ohlsen says his office has handled questions rather than problems. These questions are primarily from poll workers wondering how to handle various situation, he explains, such as what should be done if a voter makes a mistake on the ballot.
As for the rest of the day and night? "We field calls from people wanting to know where they vote, we field complaints, we field questions, and then we wait until 8 p.m.," he says. "Then we begin to get results from clerks around the county. They'll be in starting a few minutes after 8 p.m., as people around the county call in and the City of Madison brings in their results.
4:08 p.m.: As the national political blogs train their aggregated guns on the elections as a whole, Madison's not escaping attention. The bomb scare at East High School this morning was noted in a diary on Daily Kos, with subsequent discussion focusing on suspicion of dirty tricks and the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood.
3:59 p.m.: As forecast many observers and prescient cynics, there have been numerous problems with voting throughout the country. There are three reports so far at Hotline on Call, an online arm of The National Journal newspaper. These include a mid-morning update, a noon update and a late afternoon update, with reports on everything from dysfunctional electronic voting machines and continuing misleading robocalls in numerous states throughout the union; Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia and Missouri, for starters. These states are home to some of the most hardly-contested races this cycle that will determine whether or not the Democratic Party will take over the leadership of the U.S. House, and perhaps even the Senate.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. There's much more at the primary partisan online communities; Daily Kos for Democrats and Red State for Republicans. The latter is focusing mostly on polling place scuffles in various Pennsylvania locations (along with a ballot shortage in one New Mexico district). There's much, much more at the former, though, including links to reports on electronic voting machine problems and ballot shortages in Colorado, campaign tricks in Maryland, voter identification confusion in South Carolina, and continuing acrimony over the Connecticut Senatorial campaign. As declared by Kos' Markos Moulitsas, "Today is the end of the electronic voting machine."
3:52 p.m.: An organizer of the Madison-based street theatre group describes their efforts over the summer and fall at the Dane County Farmers' Market to oppose the amendment that would ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. He writes:
We've done this for 2-3 hours at the Market for 4 of the last 5 weekends (the fifth got rained out), and the response to this little action has been tremendous. It's been surprisingly easy to get people to take the ballots, hold them high so others can see, and insert them into the box. I'd estimate that we've roped somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 passersby into casting these giant prop ballots over our 4 action days, and the greatest part is that they were witnessed by many, many thousands more.
3:49 p.m.: Here's the latest voting report, thanks to Marty Fox. He reports:
I voted at the fire station in Fitchburg. No apathy there! I arrived at 7:15 a.m., stood in line outside and was voter number 117.
3:06 p.m.: What else has the mayor's office been hearing about besides the bomb scare at East High? "Largely reports about turnout being very heavy," says mayoral spokesperson George Twigg. "The downside to that is people have to wait in line to some to degree. We've been working with the clerk's office to move poll workers around and do what can be done to keep lines to a minimum."
3:01 p.m.: As noted on TDPF, the Dane County GOP is running an online countdown that is anticipating "'til Doyle is gone." Trouble is, the countdown ends at 7 p.m., not 8 p.m. when the polls close and the election is ultimately decided.
2:57 p.m.: Numerous voters are reporting about their experiences online throughout the country today. Here is a sampling of a few in the Madison metro area:
2:43 p.m.: George Twigg just sent the following message to mayoral media contacts: "FYI: Voting at the Madison East High School location is now being moved back to its original location inside the school."
2:30 p.m.: Want more first-person voter reports? Several voters give their accounts here, here, and here on TDPF. A third item features a voters' report from the southwest side of Madison. The voter writes:
This morning we went to vote (Head Start on Red Arrow Trail) and I must say some of the poll workers were in quite a tizzy. Perhaps the woman in charge is just naturally nervous ... but I was afraid she was going to burst into flames. There were several of us registering and there seemed to be some confusion over two similar, but not exactly identical, registration forms.
2:20 p.m.: Isthmus editorial intern Ben Broeren voted at the UW Memorial Union at 11:05 a.m. this morning. He provides an extended report on the Election Day scene at the heart of campus:
As I pass through Library Mall on the way to my polling place, I see two tents between the Pres House and the University Club. One is passing out Democrat candidate stickers, and the other is Fair Wisconsin urging voters to deny the gay marriage ban.
The ground is adorned with chalk etchings, from "Doyle = education" to "Doyle = increased tuition."
Do people take the proselytizing seriously?
After I enter the Memorial Library's commons, I find the polling room in a study hall that's rarely used. The line for registration/voting goes about ten people past the door to the room. Though I am voting between class periods, so the crowd is likely filled with students running to vote after class.
Despite the line and the fact that several wards are represented, things move like clockwork.
Reminiscent of Wal-Mart, a greeter meets you and directs you to your ward. Mine is Ward 40. The staff at the ward stations have no time to be friendly, as dozens of voters in the room have the same desire to fulfill their civic duty. "Name and address please," echoes through the room.
After I often have to choose the lesser of two evils, I slide the ballot into an electronic voting register that sounds takes it with a "beep." An elderly lady gives me a sticker and a thumbs up as I walk out the door.
At least somebody's happy about the vote.
2:14 p.m.: J.R. Ross at WisPolitics reports that state elections board chair Kevin Kennedy is finding no serious voting problems as election day passes its halfway point.
2:08 p.m.: Isthmus employee Julie Butler voted on the east side this morning. She reports:
I voted early this morning, arriving at Schenk Elementary School on the east side at 7:10 a.m. There was already a line and it took me approximately ten minutes to get into the library to vote. I was voter #52, as quite a few people had already voted ahead of me. While I was there no one seemed willing to use the electronic voting machine, including me.Butler also noted that the Milwaukee television station WTMJ was conducting an exit poll outside of the library.
2:05 p.m.: WisPolitics reports that Governor Jim Doyle voted this morning at Midvale Elementary School, while his challenger Mark Green voted at the Hobart Town Hall outside of Green Bay.
2:00 p.m.: Isthmus employee Chad Hopper vote this morning in Fitchburg. He reports:
My wife and I voted at the Fitchburg Community Center at about 10:30 a.m. We were voter #979 and #980. It was busy, but not crowded, with all the booths were continuously full. It went quickly, though. I would say we were there for ten minutes, maybe fifteen max. The only thing that really backed us up was that for some reason, at the time we were wanting to vote, the line for A-I last names was about 15 deep, while the other two lines were completely empty.
The people working the place were great -- informative if people had questions, friendly, and instrumental in keeping the lines moving.
1:55 p.m.: Isthmus employee Colin Murray voted this morning on the southwest side of town. He reports:
I arrived at the polling location at Heritage Congregational Church at 7 a.m. The line was very long, almost as long as the 2004 election. By the time I left, the line was out the door. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, though they could have used more booths for completing the ballot.
1:48 p.m.: Isthmus employee Janine Wachter reports voting absentee on Friday, Nov. 3. She reports:
After we got into what seemed like a quiet clerk's office, about 20 people lined up within minutes with many waiting to cast absentee ballots. It took us about 20 minutes for the whole process.
1:41 p.m.: Isthmus employee JoAnn Stielstra voted this morning on the near west side. She reports:
I voted this morning at Thoreau Elementary on Nakoma Road. I arrived 15 minutes before the polls opened and was seventh in line. I really expected to be first. Before 7 a.m., the line was snaking through the halls from the polling location (in the school library) almost to the back door. It was impr