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Monday, November 5, 2012

Early Scenes From States Up for Grabs

Campaign visits by the four presidential and vice-presidential candidates since the Republican National Convention, at the end of August.Lisa Waananen/The New York Times Campaign visits by the four presidential and vice-presidential candidates since the Republican National Convention, at the end of August.

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New York Times correspondents around the nation surveyed the activity in swing states a day before the election, and what they found was a frenzied push to the very end to coax voters to the polls. Many had already cast their ballots, but the bulk of the votes are expected Tuesday. And for some, Election Day will be even more significant, the start of a new life: from the Romney volunteer who moved with his wife from Texas to help the campaign's cause in Ohio, to the political junkie who makes his living selling memorabilia in battleground states during election years


MIAMI - “Mamita, tenemos una conga outside!” someone shouted. “We have a conga outside!”

It was voting Miami style. On a final, unexpected day of voting in Miami-Dade County, Obama supporters swayed in a conga line, with an actual conga drum at the front, all in the hopes of keeping voters waiting in yet another five-hour line excited. As the sun pounded voters, they gulped water, ate pizza, unfolded chairs and opened umbrellas, courtesy of the Obama campaign.

It was obvious why. Most voters waiting here sported Obama stickers. Some voters grumbled about the persistently long lines around the county. After a federal lawsuit was filed by Florida Democrats, six counties agreed to let voters fill out and drop off absentee ballots in person on Monday and Tuesday.< /p>

“I've been calling places for the last couple of days, but the wait time had been too long,” said Gabriela Reyes, 19, a student who works part time. “It's time-consuming. It has made it really hard for people to come out and vote.”

Nearby, Tania Mancia, 47, looked at her watch. She had one hour left before work beckoned. “There is always tomorrow,” she said with a sigh.



DUBLIN, Ohio - The parking lot at the Romney-Ryan state headquarters here in a suburban office park would be a bonanza for a minivan full of kids playing the license plate game.

Lots of Ohio, of course. Then the neighbors: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Then a bit farther afield: Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Then there is a tan Chevy Tahoe with Texas plates, belonging to John and Cheri Gilbert, a pair of soft-spoken believers in the Romney cause from the Houston area. “Our country recruited us,” said Mr. Gilbert, 67, a semiretired engineer.

Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert, by their count, have knocked on 4,000 doors and made more than 1,000 calls on behalf of the Republican ticket. Mr. Gilbert said he and his wife had never been involved in a presidential campaign.

President Obama lost them when he pushed health care through Congress without a single Republican vote, and when, in their view, he traveled abroad and “apologized for who we are.”

The Gilberts said that on Wednesday, win or lose, they would pack up and return to Texas. “But the fight is not over,” said Mrs. Gilbert, 66. “We are going to be watching Congress, the Senate and whoever is president and vice president and hold their feet to the fire.”



MILWAUKEE - Forget hanging chads and contested ballots. In Wisconsin, some election officials are worried about fistfights.

Law enforcement agents here are being traine d on mediating disputes at the polls.

In Milwaukee, lawyers from the district attorney's office will be on call if tensions get out of hand. Bickering has already broken out at the clerk's office in Sun Prairie, a small city outside Madison, where voters argued as they waited in line to cast absentee ballots.

Still reeling from a divisive recall fight this year, Wisconsinites are voting in a tinderbox atmosphere, stoked by a near-constant stream of attack ads. City clerks are bracing for a combustible combination of aggressive poll watchers and partisan voters. “We have to anticipate the worst,” said Neil V. Albrecht, the executive director of Milwaukee's election commission. “This is a very politically polarized state right now, and an electrically charged climate when it comes to issues like voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement.”

Some voters are yearning for the finish line. Mary Markwiese, 59, a legal assistant, said the end of the campaign w ould be a relief. “It's like watching the Packers in the Super Bowl,” said Ms. Markwiese, who supports Mitt Romney. “You're just too nervous about it.”



DENVER - Early voting is over in Colorado. The first completed ballots have already been scanned into computers. The candidates have all departed, making their last hoarse, passionate pushes for Colorado's nine electoral votes before flying east.

So for the army of election workers and county clerks across Colorado, Monday was the eye of the storm. As the campaigns papered neighborhoods with door tags reminding people to vote, election workers answered phone calls and sorted through mail-in ballots. They ran last-minute training seminars for election judges and made sure the voting machines were working. They marshaled their staff and braced for a frenzied day that would begin at 6 a.m. sharp and might well last until past midnight.

The night before would be a restless one.

“It's hard not having nightmares,” Gilbert Ortiz, the Pueblo County clerk, said in a telephone interview. “My wife is complaining to me that I'm giving speeches in my sleep about ballots.”

Mr. Ortiz was subsisting on Power Bars, coffee and pot roast his mother brought him for lunch. Other clerks had similar arsenals lined up for Tuesday.

“Coffee and Dr Pepper,” said Terri Carver, an election official in Alamosa County. “We just take one minute at a time, and keep smiling.”



DES MOINES - Most political junkies get their election fix from the comfort of their homes, where they watch pundits on cable television or scour the latest polls online.

But Jeff Reul needs to be closer to the action. So, for the past two presidential election cycles he has hopscotched swing states, hawking political pins and T-shirts from parking lots outside rallies to support his travels.

As he stood in t he cold outside a rally for Representative Paul D. Ryan here on Monday afternoon, it was easy to see from his pins where he stood politically. There were the pins that said: “I'LL TAKE THE MORMON OVER THE MORON.” Others said “Don't Tax Me Bro!” or “Hot Chicks Dig Ryan,” and “GIVE ME LIBERTY NOT DEBT.”

“It's the best road trip you can take,” Mr. Reul said. “I can say I was there for history.”

Mr. Reul said that he had shaken hands with both Mitt Romney and Mr. Ryan, and sold buttons to celebrity politicians.

When asked what he planned to do after the election on Tuesday, Mr. Reul, a dietitian from Columbia, Mo., said: “Just go back to my boring life.”



ARLINGTON, Va. - Elaine Dawes has had pretty good luck calling people on President Obama's behalf over the past month.

“Usually I get the enthusiastic people,” Ms. Dawes, 72, said Monday as she stood next to a power outlet clo gged with charging cellphones.

In a storefront humming with activity two miles from the Pentagon, 20 volunteers dotted the room, many leaning forward in their folding chairs as they made last-minute calls.

“This is your neighbor in Arlington,” one volunteer said into a cellphone, sitting near a banner tracing progress toward their goal of knocking on 142,000 doors. As of Monday afternoon, the banner put them at just over 106,000.

Gabriel Thoumi, 41, estimated that they had seen about 30 percent more people coming in to volunteer on Monday compared with last week. He said volunteers were focused on encouraging people not only to vote, but also to decide ahead of time when to vote and how they would get to the polls.

“Their voice is as important as anybody else in this country, and it's absolutely critical that everybody gets to vote, whoever they are,” he said. “Republican, Green, Libertarian, Democrat, it doesn't matter. That's the beauty of our country.”



MANCHESTER, N.H. - Hours before Mitt Romney visited here on Monday, two of his sons, Tagg and Ben, traveled through the state visiting Romney “victory” offices and encouraging voters to get to the polls.

It is familiar turf for the family: they have a summer home in New Hampshire, and throughout the grueling race they would get together on Lake Winnipesaukee for breaks from the campaign trail.

But the state has not always been kind to Mr. Romney. In 2008, Senator John McCain won the presidential primary here, reviving his once moribund candidacy. But this campaign cycle, Mr. Romney won the primary decisively, and he hopes to repeat that success on Tuesday.

Both President Obama and Mr. Romney have rolled out their top surrogates across the state and have enlisted armies of volunteers to canvass and host get-out-the-vote efforts.

In the battle of signs, the Romney-Ryan ticket domin ated Granite Avenue, a main stretch in downtown Manchester.

Ricardo Rodriguez, 42, a delivery man for a florist and an Obama volunteer, was undeterred.

“I'm not a political person,” he said on a cold Manchester night as snow began to fall. “But listening to Mitt Romney's ideas about where he wants to take the country, it just sounds scary.”



A rally in Reno on Monday for the Republican presidential ticket.Josh Haner/The New York Times A rally in Reno on Monday for the Republican presidential ticket.

LAS VEGAS - With the advantage apparently going to President Obama in early voting in Nevada, Mitt Romney's campaign has imported a 600-member volunteer army from nearby states. The group ga thered on Monday morning at the Las Vegas offices of Brady Industries, a facility supply distributor.

One volunteer was Lisa Vander, 50, of San Diego, who said she was unemployed despite an “incredible” résumé and blamed the current economy. “It's really about jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Ms. Vander, who added that she believed Mr. Romney would do more for the economy.

But the Obama campaign was also working to secure every remaining vote. At a senior housing complex named after Senator Harry Reid in downtown Las Vegas, Betty Barfield, 74, a volunteer coordinator for the Obama campaign, was sitting outside in her wheelchair. Half the residents of the complex of 100 apartments had voted early, Ms. Barfield said. She had arranged two buses to come take the remaining ones to polls on Tuesday. Almost all of them will vote for Mr. Obama, she said.

“It's really been a joy and a privilege for me,” said Ms. Barfield, a minister who is African-American. “ I never thought I would see this and it would happen in my lifetime. I thank God for letting me live long enough.”


Election Day Coverage at a Glance

The New York Times will provide live, comprehensive coverage of Election Day on the Web and mobile devices and in print. The highlights include:

- TimesCast Politics At 7 and 10 p.m. Eastern time, a live video broadcast from the Times newsroom will take readers behind the scenes with interviews and analysis from Times journalists and live results from the presidential, Senate and House campaigns.

- Live Blog Times reporters, editors and photographers will provide real-time updates, analysis and results from battleground states and important Congressional races.

- FiveThirtyEight Live updates and analysis from Nate Silver.

- Election Guide Continuously updating interactive maps for the presidential, House and Senate races. County by county results from the presidential race, as well as continuously updated results from every House, Senate and governor's race. State by state pages will follow major ballot initiatives and will outline the political lan dscape in each.

- Interactive Graphics What to watch for on Election Day, including exit polls and the possible paths to victory for each presidential candidate.

- Voter Portraits A collection of photographs and voices.

- Photo Slide Shows Times photographers chronicle the candidates' last day on the campaign trail and provide a view of Election Day around the country.

- Election 2012 App The latest news from The Times and other top sources, plus opinion, polls, campaign data and live video.

- Social Media For on-the-ground reporting, follow the Times political team on Facebook at and on Twitter at @thecaucus. Find more Times journalists on Twitter.

Romney Returns to Where He Started

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Mitt Romney will conclude his last day of campaigning before Election Day in the same place he started his presidential bid 16 months ago in the Granite State.

The Romney campaign said that Mr. Romney would return to New Hampshire late Monday night to hold a rally here at the Verizon Wireless Arena, a final effort to buoy support in a critical swing state.

Most polls show President Obama leading in the state by a few percentage points, but Mr. Romney had hoped his proximity to the state, as a former governor of Massachusetts who owns a vacation house near Lake Winnipesaukee, would help him capture the state's four electoral votes.

On Sunday, Mr. Obama made his seventh trip to New Hampshire this year to speak to a crowd of more than 14,000 outside the Capitol in Concord. “You know, the folks at the very top in this country, they don't need a champion in Washington,” he told the crowd. “They'll always h ave a seat at the table.”

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have rolled out their top surrogates across the state and have enlisted legions of volunteers to canvass and host get-out-the-vote efforts. In the battle for signs, the Romney-Ryan ticket dominated Granite Avenue, a main stretch in downtown Manchester.

Hours before Mr. Romney's visit here, two of his sons, Tagg and Ben, traveled throughout the state visiting Romney “Victory” offices and encouraging voters to get to the polls. Kid Rock will perform at Mr. Romney¹s rally Tuesday night. Republicans have organized a presumed victory party at Jillian's Billboards in Manchester for Tuesday night.

At Mr. Obama's rally on Sunday, former President Bill Clinton introduced the president. “Would you rather see Kid Rock or the Comeback Kid,” asked Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a Democrat. Mr. Lynch was referring to the 1992 New Hampshire Democratic primary, when Mr. Clinton came in second behind Paul Tsongas. His memorable speech in Dover, N.H. (“I'll always be with you, until the last dog dies,” Mr. Clinton told the crowd) cemented his comeback.

In 2008 Mr. Obama also narrowly lost the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, to Hillary Clinton, after he told her in the final debate before the primary, “You're likable enough, Hillary.”

In the general election that year, Mr. Obama soundly defeated Senator John McCain of Arizona, 54 percent to 45 percent.

New Hampshire has disproportionately high voter turnout. Local officials have predicted that 722,000, or 70 percent of New Hampshire's eligible voters, will cast a ballot on Tuesday.

Karen Ladd, New Hampshire's assistant secretary of state, has told voters to prepare to wait in lengthy lines and to present photo identification, a new regulation that some officials worry could hinder voter participation. Voters who do not have a photo ID can opt to fill out an affidavit before they can pick up a ballot.

New Hampshire will be the first state to begin voting, a quirky tradition that local campaign volunteers like to brag about. Polls open at 12:01 a.m. in Dixville and Hart's Location, two tiny northern New Hampshire towns with a population of 41 and 12 residents, respectively, according to the 2010 United States census.

In the Final Days of the Campaign, Dukakis, 79, Knocks on Doors for Democrats

The former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, center, and his wife, Kitty, talking with Kirk Yanefski, a voter, as the Dukakises canvassed door to door for Elizabeth Warren on Saturday in Quincy, Mass.Katharine Q. Seelye/The New York Times The former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, center, and his wife, Kitty, talking with Kirk Yanefski, a voter, as the Dukakises canvassed door to door for Elizabeth Warren on Saturday in Quincy, Mass.

QUINCY, Mass.â€" Michael Dukakis spent his 79th birthday on Saturday chasing a grown man down the street. The reason? To capture one more vote for Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for the Senate.

“Hi! I'm former Governor Michael Dukakis,” he yelled out as he ran m ore than a block to catch up with Kirk Yanefski, 80, who was crossing the street. Soon, the two were chatting like old buddies - in Greek - with Mr. Yanefski proudly sharing a faded photo of himself as a pilot in the Yugoslavian army. Mr. Dukakis's wife, Kitty, 75, ambled up slowly behind because she has a broken foot, having tumbled down some stairs five weeks ago, and she is impeded by a clunky boot.

Her injury did not stop Team Dukakis from a full weekend of go-for-broke campaigning for Ms. Warren, who is in a neck-and-neck race with Senator Scott P. Brown. They are a small part of Ms. Warren's battalion of volunteers but they are among the most experienced and the most energetic.

Mr. Dukakis is a big believer in the importance of one-on-one contact at election time. He credits thousands of volunteers who went knocking on doors for him over the years for his successes in elective office.

In Lynn, where Mr. Dukakis address ed the troops on Saturday morning before they went out canvassing, he singled out Agnes Ricko, 75, an experienced party hand who was a precinct captain on his 1970 campaign for lieutenant governor.

“If it weren't for the Agnes Rickos of this world,” he told them, “I couldn't get elected dog catcher.”

She worked in most of his campaigns as he went on to become governor of Massachusetts and his party's standard-bearer for president in 1988. His loss of 40 states that year to George H.W. Bush was rough, but did not diminish his belief in the value of canvassing.

After Lynn, he drove to Newton, where he stood on a table to address volunteers who were preparing to knock on doors for Joe Kennedy III, who is running for Congress. “You represent the best of what politics is all about,” Mr. Dukakis told them.

He spoke to troops again here in Quincy, then began bounding door to door as eagerly as a child at Halloween. He was not always met with trea ts. One man opened his door a crack, saying he was sick. Mr. Dukakis told him he hoped he would vote for Ms. Warren, then could not resist a comment on the fact that the man was smoking.

“Those things will make you sicker, you know,” Mr. Dukakis told him. “I gave up the booze,” the man said, adding that he could not give up cigarettes too.

Many doors went unanswered. Mr. Dukakis would knock and wait, then slip in a Warren flyer.

Behind one door was Zoe Lester, 51, an accountant, who was highly amused at seeing the governor on the other side. She seemed to be a Warren supporter already and joked that his visit would be “a good talking point” when she told her friends.

Mr. Dukakis, who teaches at Northeastern University in Boston and loves mentoring young people, has also been helping fire up the troops who are canvassing for President Obama in New Hampshire. In a phone call to young Obama workers the other day, he offered tips on what to sa y as they went door to door.

And then he blurted out this: “I owe you all an apology,” he said as about 20 young people listened on speakerphone. “If I'd beaten Bush 1, you'd have never heard of Bush 2 and we wouldn't be in this mess, so blame me.”

The volunteers were silent. It was not clear how far back their political memories extended. He sensed the awkwardness and then quickly added: “Have fun! Enjoy it. You're doing the single most important thing we can do to win this election for the president. My hat's off to you.”

Follow Katharine Q. Seelye on Twitter at @kseelye.

App Snapshot: Ohio Ground Zero

The Election 2012 App

The Election 2012 app has a crash course in Ohio: geography, history, law and even religion (the Amish vote). Throughout the campaign, we've been gathering essential politics news from The Times and around the Web, and tomorrow evening, the app will be unlocked as we roll out live election results, video and other coverage.


  • ‘5 Ohios' Analyzed in Swing State
    Each party has its strongholds where it wants to maximize turnout, but it's clear why Central Ohio has become a focus of both campaigns. (The Associated Press)
  • How Long Will Election Day Last in Ohio?
    A primer, with some worst-case scenarios, for a potentially drawn-out process in the Buckeye State that could last until Thanksgiving or beyond. (Yahoo! News)
  • Getting Out the Amish Vote
    Ohio and Pennsylvania each have about 60,000 Amish citizens, but members of the Christian sect rarely vote. A look at how a conservative activist is trying to change that. (World Magazine)
  • From the Primaries to Portmania, 5 Events That Shaped the Presidential Race in Ohio
    The prolonged primaries, bypassing Senator Rob Portman as a running mate, early voting fights, Mitt Romney's first debate victory and Hurricane Sandy were crucial moments in arguably the most important swing state. (The Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Election Guide: Ohio

In Nevada, a Push to Get Holdouts to the Polls

LAS VEGAS - In Nevada, where nearly 70 percent of voters had already cast their ballots, both sides pushed forward with fervent last-minute efforts to get the stragglers to polls.

Figures released by elections officials showed that Democrats held an edge of more than 40,000 voters by the time early voting ended last week. In Clark County, the state's most populous, more Democrats had voted early this year than in 2008.

With the advantage apparently for President Obama in early voting, Mitt Romney's campaign had imported a 600-member volunteer army from nearby states. The group gathered Monday morning at the Las Vegas offices of Brady Industries, a facility supply distributor.

The volunteers were dispatched in 40 vans to Las Vegas-area neighborhoods, where they planned to walk door to door, guiding by walking lists of conservative voters. After sundown they planned to return to Brady Industries, where the company had donated space for a large phone bank.

One of the volunteers was Lisa Vander, 50, of San Diego, who said she was unemployed despite an “incredible” résumé and blames it on the current economy. “It's really about jobs jobs jobs,” Ms. Vander said. She said she believed Mr. Romney would do more for the economy.

Mr. Romney's running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, began his day Monday with a final campaign stop in Reno. Later in the day, Craig Romney, Mr. Romney's Spanish-speaking son, was to hold a rally on the heavily Hispanic east side of Las Vegas.

The state's Hispanic vote - about 25 percent of the total - was viewed as critical. The organization Mi Familia Vota had worked to make sure Hispanics registered and went to the polls in early voting. On Tuesday the group is planning to drive additional voters to polling places. The effort appears to have been successful. In Clark County, the home of Las Vegas, early voting among those with Hispanic surna mes outstripped turnout in 2008 by more than 12,000 voters. The group skews heavily Democratic.

The Obama campaign was also working to scrape up every remaining vote. At a senior housing complex in downtown Las Vegas named after Senator Harry Reid, Betty Barfield, a volunteer coordinator for the Obama campaign, was sitting outside in her wheel chair. Half the complex of 100 apartments had voted early, Ms. Barfield said. She had arranged for two buses to come take the remaining residents to polls on Tuesday. Almost all of them will vote for Mr. Obama, she said.

“It's really been a joy and a privilege for me,” said Ms. Barfield, a minister who is African-American. “I never thought I would see this and it would happen in my lifetime. I thank God for letting me live long enough.”

She has also held phone banks and Obama meetings at the senior complex, many of them catered. The Obama campaign supplied ice cream for one of them. “Any time you want peopl e to come and hear what you have to say, you must have free food,” Ms. Barfield said.

Morning television viewers in Las Vegas on Monday were bombarded with back-to-back commercials paid for by both the candidates and outside groups supporting both sides. Campaign-weary Nevadans said they were particularly tired of the negative advertising in the race between Senator Dean Heller, a Republican, against his Democratic opponent, Representative Shelley Berkley.

Arizona Group Says It Was Middle Man for Donations to California Ballot Measures

LOS ANGELES - After weeks fighting in court to keep the source of its funds secret, the Arizona nonprofit group that last month made an anonymous $11 million donation to two California ballot measure campaigns revealed the source of the money Monday morning. Sort of.

The group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, sent a letter to California's elections watchdog agency declaring that it had been an intermediary, while another nonprofit group had been the original source. But the identities of the original donors remained secret.

Kamala Harris, the California attorney general, said her department would continue to investigate the case to determine whether the group had violated state law. Civil or criminal penalties could potentially follow, she said.

“It is very troubling that $11 million would be poured into California anonymously weeks before an election to influence the outcome of a very important race, and it is troubling that we had to take a case up to the California Supreme Court to get some element of disclosure,” Ms. Harris said.

In a letter sent to the Fair Political Practices Commission on Monday, lawyers for Americans for Responsible Leadership said they had reached a settlement with the agency but did not admit any wrongdoing.

Americans for Responsible Leadership burst suddenly from obscurity to become a great source of intrigue and controversy in California political circles, after the group's donation last month. The $11 million went to a conservative political committee that is working to defeat one ballot proposition (a temporary tax increase to finance public education, supported by Gov. Jerry Brown) and pass another (a measure that would curb the ability of labor unions to donate to political campaigns).

Mr. Brown criticized the group for keeping its donors secret, and the Fair Political Practices Commission soon requested that Americans for Respon sible Leadership submit to an audit.

The Arizona group, however, refused to turn over its documents, and the fight moved to the courtroom. Last week a judge ordered Americans for Responsible Leadership to comply with the audit request. Several appeals followed, though. And in a rare weekend decision, the Supreme Court of California on Sunday night ordered the group to turn over its records to the Fair Political Practices Commission immediately.

Although lawyers for Americans for Responsible Leadership could have appealed that ruling to the United States Supreme Court, they relented on Monday morning, sending a letter to the Fair Political Practices Commission that identified Americans for Job Security as the source of the $11 million donation, which came to the Arizona group through another intermediary, the Center to Protect Patient Rights.

Derek Cressman, a vice president of Common Cause, the watchdog group that filed the initial complaint in this case with the Fair Political Practices Commission, said Monday's disclosure showed the kind of lengths that many powerful interests now went to in order to conceal their spending.

“In the wake of Citizens United, this nonprofit shell game is becoming the preferred modus operandi of big moneyed players,” Mr. Cressman said. “This is the new dirty politics.”

TimesCast Politics: Final Moments of the 2012 Campaign

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
  • 0:01  Last Day on the Campaign Trail

    Jim Rutenberg breaks down the final day on the campaign trail and looks ahead to Election Day.

  • 3:36  The Ground Game in Ohio

    In the final days of the presidential race, Ohio voters are being courted and pestered on the airwaves, on the phone and at their homes.

  • 6:50  Voting Problems

    Michael Cooper looks at voting issues and legal skirmishes from a round the country.

  • 11:09  Bill Clinton on the Trail

    Mark Leibovich reports on the presence of former President Bill Clinton on the campaign trail.

  • 14:30  Watching the Polls

    Kate Phillips offers some guidance on how to watch last-minute polls leading up to the election.

Romney to Hit Swing States on Election Day

DULLES, VA - Mitt Romney, who had no plans to campaign on Election Day, has now decided to travel to the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio on Tuesday.

Aides said Mr. Romney would visit campaign offices in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Until now, his staff had said that a rally in New Hampshire on Monday night would be his last event of the campaign.

The move reflects just how close the contest remains - Mr. Romney is determined to squeeze as much time in swing states as possible before the polls close.

Politicking on Election Day, while not entirely unusual, is tricky because it risks siphoning off resources and manpower in crucial states from traditional get-out-the-vote efforts.

Mr. Romney will fly to the two states after voting in his home district in Belmont, Mass., on Tuesday morning.

Shutting the Gates Over Fears of Election Unrest

A gated community near Atlanta has decided to step up security this week. The reason is not burglaries, but another issue entirely: the presidential election.

In Woodstock, Ga., about 30 miles north of Atlanta, the president of a homeowners' association sent an e-mail on Sunday informing residents that the entrance gates would be closed 24 hours a day beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, out of concern over possible civil unrest after the election.

“I feel it is better to take a position of caution to enhance controlled access to the community until we see what (if any) negative repercussions may occur because of the results of the election,” wrote Bill Stanley, the president of the homeowners' association at the Cottages of Woodstock, a residential community for people 55 and over.

The entrance gates have been open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during a construction project. Mr. Stanley said the gates would be closed round the clock until next Monday â€" “if all g oes well.”

The e-mail, which took some residents by surprise, was the latest sign that fringe voices predicting looting and rioting after the election have been making some nervous. The radical predictions have had an anti-Obama tinge, with some warning of civil disobedience depending on whether President Obama wins or loses the election.

In Texas, the top elected official in Lubbock County caused a stir when he said in August that he was expecting civil unrest if Mr. Obama was re-elected. “And we're not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy,” the official, County Judge Tom Head, said on the Fox station in Lubbock. “O.K. Now what's going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops. I don't want them in Lubbock County.”

Last week, a leader of the American Family Association, a conservative evangelical group, predicted widespread looting and mayhem if Mr. Obama lost. “People out there are going to be saying that ‘Governor Romney is going to take all this away from us,'” Bryan Fischer, the group's director of issue analysis, said on his radio program. He added: “I think there's going to be unrest. I think there will be blood.”

Mr. Stanley, the president of the homeowners' association, said in an interview that he made the decision to close the gates based on a recommendation from local law enforcement officials, and that he did not believe there would be election-related chaos.

“It has nothing to do with radical talk,” he said. “It has to do with erring on the side of caution in an over-55 community. The gates are there, that's what they're there for. To believe that there would be anything serious is ridiculous. But to err on the side of caution is prudent.”

A spokeswoman for the Woodstock Police Department said in a statemen t that the agency had no information suggesting that the election would be anything but peaceful. “Anyone suggesting otherwise does not speak on behalf of the department,” said the spokeswoman, Brittany Duncan.

Low-Interest Government Loans to Help With Storm Home Damage

Homes in Bayhead, N.J., after Hurricane Sandy.ReutersHomes in Bay Head, N.J., after Hurricane Sandy.

Even if you don't own a business, you may be eligible for a disaster loan from the federal Small Business Administration to help repair damage to your home from Hurricane Sandy.

Odd as it may sound, the S.B.A. administers low-interest loans to homeowners (as well as to businesses and non-profits) in disaster areas. The loans are meant to finance repairs not covered by insurance. Loans of up to $200,000 are available to replace or repair your main home. And both homeowners and renters may be eligible for loans of up to $40,000 for damage or destroyed personal property.

The property must be located in declared disaster county. Vacat ion properties or second homes aren't eligible (but qualified rental properties may be eligible for business-assistance loans).

Interest rates on the loans are as low as 1.688 percent, and the payback period can be as long as 30 years, depending on the borrower's ability to repay, said Jose Vejarano, a spokesman for the S.B.A. Applicants undergo a credit check, and collateral may be required. “We look at the overall picture of each applicant's financial condition,” he said.

Funds received from insurance claims are generally deducted from the loan total, or are used to help repay the disaster loan. But storm victims shouldn't wait for insurance settlements to apply, he said.

Applications can be made in person at a FEMA disaster office, or they can be made online; the Web application process has been revamped to be easier to use, he said.

Applicants must first register with FEMA You can do so online, or by calling FEMA's toll-free Helpline at 800-621-3362.

Tips for applying are available at the S.B.A.'s Web Site. Web site. The agency also provides a list of frequently asked questions.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 31, according to the S.B.A. Web site. After the application is received, a representative of the S.B.A. will inspect the property. The agency aims to process applications within two weeks.


You Should Try a Multi-Day Spending Cleanse

Carl Richards

Carl Richards is a certified financial planner in Park City, Utah, and is the director of investor education at The BAM Alliance. His book, “The Behavior Gap,” was published this year. His sketches are archived on the Bucks blog.

Bad habits are tricky. They sneak up on you. Before you know it, you're doing something that you didn't really think about because you do it out of habit.

We do this all the time with money. We spend for all sorts of reasons. It can be as simple as to make us feel better, to fit in with a group or just because we've always gone shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Sometimes breaking these bad habits takes radical action. It's not enough to have a few conversations with a spouse, a p ersonal coach or a shrink. Some habits require a complete intervention.

I learned about one tactic during a conversation I had with Steve Fellows, a friend of mine in Las Vegas. When I asked him how he keeps his spending habits in check, he walked me through something he and his wife refer to as a spending cleanse.

Every once in a while for several days, sometimes as long as two or three weeks, they try to avoid spending money. He rides his bike to work, they avoid eating out (including lunches) and pass on any travel or movies.

It's hard, but he says that it has the powerful effect of helping you get clear about how you want to spend your money and time compared to what you might be doing just out of habit.

This approach is a bit on the extreme side, but sometimes an extreme exercises can be a powerful way to provide perspective. It can be a way to shock you out of a rut you may have been in without even knowing it.

Try it! Try going for a few days, maybe longer, without spending any money at all.

What about food? Go out Saturday and shop for a week in advance.

What about bills? Plan to pay them a day or two before you start and the day after you end.

What about trips? Don't go on any.

What about entertainment? This one can be interesting. Instead of going to the movies, go for a walk. Read a book. Go fishing. Ride a bike. Have a conversation. Draw a picture. There are plenty of things to do that won't require money. Those of you who lost power in the last week have probably learned a bit about this already.

Your goal is to prepare yourself to go for several days, even longer if you can manage it, without spending a dime. I have managed to do it for a few days previously, but I'm planning to try it again myself when I wrap up some travel in November.

Is it hard? Yes. But it will be worth it.

It will be worth it to see where we're spending money out of habit.

It will be worth it to see if this changes how we think about money.

It will be worth it to see if it can stop some of our worst money habits, perhaps ones we haven't even recognized yet.

Most of all, it's a personal financial challenge that ultimately doesn't cost us anything but can pay huge dividends. Once we're really clear about why we spend, it can be the difference that determines whether we'll reach our financial goals.

Isn't that worth a few days of zero spending?


Fate of Maryland Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measure Is Uncertain

For the first time since President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, four states will ask voters to decide Tuesday whether it is legal, presenting the latest opportunity for supporters to overcome a losing record of appealing directly to voters through referendums.

Supporters of Maryland's same-sex marriage law hope to parlay the backing of Mr. Obama, who is expected to win the state, into a victory. Voters have backed constitutional amendments limiting marriage to a man and a woman in more than 30 states. If efforts to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples in any of the four states succeed Tuesday, it will be the first time that same-sex marriage is legalized by ballot measure.

Six states and Washington, D.C., have legalized same-sex marriage by legislation or a judicial ruling. Following suit, the Maryland and Washington State Legislatures passed laws approving it this year, only to face challenges from opponents who forced referendums on Election Day . Maine, where voters repealed the state's same-sex marriage law in 2009, and Minnesota will also ask voters whether same-sex marriage should be legal.

The Obama campaign announced the president's support for Maryland's law in October as Marylanders for Marriage Equality began broadcasting a radio advertisement featuring Mr. Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage.

“I think President Obama's endorsement has been a significant factor in more conversations being had in all communities, including the African-American community,” said Kevin Nix, communications director of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, adding, “The needle has moved.”

But even with the president's support, whether the law will survive Election Day is unclear. Recent polls show a close race, and some experts caution that they may be misleading anyway as voters may be hesitant to voice their opposition to the rights of others, with the vote against legali zation often undercounted in polls.

A recent poll by The Baltimore Sun showed likely voters were evenly split on Maryland's referendum. Unlike a Washington Post poll about a week earlier - which showed that likely voters favored the law 52 percent to 43 percent - the Baltimore Sun poll did not use the ballot's wording, highlighting the challenge of polling on ballot measures, which pollsters sometimes rephrase to make them easier to understand in phone surveys. Explaining that opponents had petitioned to get the law on the ballot after it was approved by the legislature and Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Baltimore Sun's poll asked simply, “In November, will you vote to make same-sex marriage legal or illegal in Maryland?” In response, 46 percent said legal while 47 percent said illegal.

In Maryland, which has one of the largest black populations in the country, it's been a fight for black voters. Both sides have featured black ministers and civil rights leaders in their campaign ads. The Maryland Marriage Alliance, the campaign opposing the state's same-sex marriage law, recently aired a radio commercial featuring Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a minister, rejecting comparisons between the civil rights movement and efforts to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples and arguing Maryland already has protections for them

“It is possible to be tolerant of gay and lesbian rights without redefining marriage, God's holy union,” she said in the commercial.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance could not be reached for comment.

In addition to Mr. Obama, the N.A.A.C.P. came out in favor of same-sex marriage this year, and local chapters have been especially active in Maryland, Mr. Nix said. But the Baltimore Sun poll in October showed 50 percent of black voters oppose the law, while 42 percent support it.

Polls show young people are among the strongest supporters of the ballot measures, particularly in Maryland and Washington State. A Baltimore Sun poll in September showed that 61 percent of voters under the age of 35 favor Maryland's law, while just 22 percent oppose it. A recent KCTS 9 Washington poll reported more than 70 percent of registered Washington State voters ages 18 to 29 support the ballot referendum there, where polls show that voters are likely to uphold the state's law legalizing same-sex marriage.

But young voters - who tend to support same-sex marriage in higher numbers than older voters but also tend to vote in lower numbers - are not the only reason the polls are close. A study released in October found that support nationwide for legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples has increased across the board since 2004, with even evangelical Protestants expressing stronger support. Third Way, the Washington, D.C.-based research institute that conducted the study, attributed 75 percent of the growth in support to people's changing their minds on the issue.

With the countdown to Election Day down to hours, both sides in Maryland are making their closing arguments to voters. In a commercial released Friday, the Maryland Marriage Alliance warns voters that the portions of the law purporting to protect religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage have harmful loopholes and that the law will hurt parents' rights to decide what their children are taught in school about same-sex marriage.

Mr. O'Malley, who has thrown his support behind the law he signed, will attend Marylanders for Marriage Equality's election night event in Baltimore, and Mr. Nix is hopeful that they will have reason to celebrate.

“The momentum is on our side,” he said. “I think it's still going to be a close race, but I think we can pull it out.”

Campaign Diary: Candidates Spending Final Day in Swing States

9:33 a.m. - A Day of Flybys for Romney

SANFORD, Fla. - Less than 24 hours before the polls open, Mitt Romney has entered the drive-through portion of his campaign.

He spent the last year traveling to voters, crisscrossing the country and dropping into small towns and rural communities.

But on the final day, they came to him.

Three of Mr. Romney's five rallies are veritable flybys, held in airport hangars so Mr. Romney can land, jog down the steps of his private plane to the blaring thrum of Kid Rock's “Born Free,” and then begin taxiing to the next city nearly as soon as he has shaken the last hand and kissed the last baby.

When Mr. Romney's plane touched down here after an 18-hour day (four events in four states) just before 1 a.m. Monday, his aides had already begun setting up for the day's rally. A “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose” sign greeted the plane, and an empty hangar waited lighted and ready for the voters who would fil e in just hours later.

So, what do voters think, heading to an auxiliary airport hangar to glimpse the man who they hope will be the next president?

“It's a convenient venue for him to come into and land,” Greg Baker, 65, of Sorrento, Fla., said with a shrug. “And rallies are rallies.”

â€" Ashley Parker

President Obama walks to his limousine as he arrives in Madison, Wis., just before  3 a.m. Monday.Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama walks to his limousine as he arrives in Madison, Wis., just before 3 a.m. Monday.

8:36 a.m. - Obama Begins 3-Day Swing in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. - President Obama began his last day of campaigning here in a state that almost every Democratic model for an Obama vi ctory assumes will be in his column. But with Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin on the Republican ticket, the president is taking no chances.

After this weekend's marathon crisscrossing of every swing state, Mr. Obama's schedule on Monday looked almost tame by comparison. Even so, he was to hit three states before heading to sweet home Chicago for the night.

After the rally planned for Monday morning in this college town, Mr. Obama will return one last time to the swing state of all swing states for a rally in Columbus, Ohio. The president has been holding on to a small lead in the polls in Ohio, and his campaign aides believe that if he wins the state, he will win the election. Unless, that is, Mr. Romney manages to sweep all the other swing states, or turn a blue state - Mr. Romney planted a flag in Pennsylvania on Sunday - red.

After Ohio, Michelle Obama will join her husband for one last rally where the two like to insist it all started - Des Moi nes. Mr. Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 catapulted his candidacy from also-ran to front-runner in the Democratic primaries, and the Obamas talk often about how much they loved tromping around in the snow in Iowa and hanging out with butter cows and whatnot at the Iowa State Fair.

In recent days, the president has been joined onstage by Democratic bigwigs. His new BFF, former President Bill Clinton, was with him on Sunday in New Hampshire, and Mr. Clinton will be on the road for him again on Monday in Pennsylvania, lest that state get its head turned by its new suitor, Mr. Romney.

In Florida, with its crucial Latino vote, Mr. Obama also got a lift on Sunday from Pitbull, a Cuban-American hip-hop artist.

But that is nothing compared to the firepower coming out for the president on Monday. The Obama campaign is hauling out its biggest weapon for dragging blue-collar white voters to the polls: Bruce Springsteen.

He is joining Mr. Obama at al l three stops on Monday-Madison, Columbus and Des Moines. And lest anyone forget the African-American vote, Jay-Z will also be joining the president in Columbus.

And in Des Moines, Mrs. Obama will be onstage with her husband, to talk about the good old days.

Then the president and the first lady will head back to their hometown, Chicago, where they are planning to spend Election Day.

â€" Helene Cooper

Monday Reading: The Risks of Buying on the Waterfront

A variety of consumer-focused articles appears daily in The New York Times and on our blogs. Each weekday morning, we gather them together here so you can quickly scan the news that could hit you in your wallet.

  •  A slow return to normal skips the gas station. (National)
  • Making babies, to make ends meet. (Sunday Review)
  • Single for the holidays. (Travel)
  • Apps for last-minute hotel rooms. (Travel)
  • How do you raise a prodigy? (Magazine)
  • Would you buy on the waterfront? (Real Estate)
  • Borrowing to build your own home. (Real Estate)
  • Learning by phone. (Education Life)
  • Tips from a professional cheater. (Education Life)
  • Second illness infects those struck by meningitis. (National)
  • Cellphone users steaming over hit-or-miss service after the storm. (Business)
  • California city takes on “Big Soda.” (National)
  • Storm-battered supply chain threatens holiday shopping. (Busi ness)
  • Runners help storm-stricken New Yorkers. (Sports)
  • The slide in wages. (Economix)
  • Beware storm-flooded cars on the market. (Wheels)
  • Owners of electric cars unfazed by storm. (Wheels)
  • Turning off Kindle's Special Offers. (Gadgetwise)
  • Apps to help find movie times. (Gadgetwise)
  • Embracing children for who they are. (Well)
  • Easing the mental fallout from Hurricane Sandy. (Well)
  • The importance of carbon monoxide detectors. (Motherlode)

In Campaign\'s Closing Days, Obama Lays Claim to the Mantle of Change

President Obama walks on stage during a campaign event at Community College of Aurora at Lowry, in Colorado.Doug Mills/The New York Times President Obama walks on stage during a campaign event at Community College of Aurora at Lowry, in Colorado.

AURORA, Colo. â€" It was 1 a.m. on the East Coast by the time President Obama took the stage at a nighttime rally at a community college in this suburb of Denver. But Mr. Obama still seemed tickled when the audience played along with one of his favorite riffs: that Mitt Romney's claim to be an agent of change is hollow.

“We know what change looks like,” the president said, before ticking off all of Mr. Romney's traits that he said did not meet the definition. With each charge â€" not sharing the details of his proposals, recycling discredited Republican policies, rubber-stamping the agenda of the Tea Party â€" the crowd chanted “Not change!”

“You guys get the idea,” Mr. Obama said with the chuckle, after several rounds of call-and-response. “Not change.”

A few minutes later, when the president had moved on to another theme, a woman shouted “chump change!”

“You missed the cue on that one,” Mr. Obama chided with a smile.

It is appropriate in the closing moments of his campaign that the president is laying claim to the mantle of change â€" a theme he elaborated to soaring effect in 2008, but which fell by the wayside in a first term where the idealism of an insurgent gave way to the pragmatism and political calculation of an incumbent.

But Mr. Obama still aspires to the post-partisan ideal he sketched out in 2008. “We are not Democrats or Republicans first,” he said to the 20,00 0 people who had gathered under a moonless sky. “We're Americans first.”

As Mr. Obama's stump speech has been drafted and redrafted, his aides say it has moved closer to the themes he articulated in his first run. On Sunday night in Colorado, at the end of a 16-hour day that covered New Hampshire, Florida and Ohio â€" and a day before he faces the verdict of the voters â€" it seemed as if a circle was closing.

The Early Word: The Last

Today's Times

  • With each passing day, President Obama has taken note every time he passes a milestone, and his checklist of “lasts” grows longer as he races through a bone-weary weekend before Tuesday's election, Peter Baker writes.
  • The political prize that eluded Mitt Romney in 2008, and his father four decades before that, is suddenly within agonizingly close reach, putting Mr. Romney in a strange and unfamiliar moment, Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro write.
  • The parties faced off in the first of what could be a growing number of legal disputes over presidential ballots and how they are counted - a preview of potential clashes that could emerge in swing states over Tuesday's voting, Mark Landler and Michael D. Shear report.
  • Outside money is pouring into the Senate campaigns as the parties look for a last-minute opening just before the election, Jonathan Weisman and Derek Willis report.
  • Bi ll Clinton has strained his voice campaigning for the president, solidifying his status as the hardest-working man in a game he plays like no one else, Mark Leibovich writes.

Happening in Washington

  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments and issue rulings.