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On the final day before the vote, both candidates will visit several key battleground states.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before traveling to Allendale, Michigan, later in the day.Hillary Clinton on Donald Trump anti Muslim rhetoric

She will then return to Philadelphia, also in Pennsylvania, for a rally with President Barack Obama and the First Lady, Bill and Chelsea Clinton and a few more special guests, including Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

It had been touted as Hillary Clinton’s final rally, but she is now also scheduled to hold a midnight “get out the vote” event in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Donald Trump will once again be dashing across five states in one day as he seeks a route to the presidency.

The Republican candidate will appear in Sarasota, Florida, before traveling to Raleigh and then Philadelphia.

Donald Trump will then travel to New Hampshire, before a final rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, close to midnight.

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign has drawn upon considerable star power in recent days to boost its appeal.

Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Jon Bon Jovi and Chance the Rapper have all turned out at rallies.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

On November 6, in Cleveland, it was basketball superstar LeBron James.

Bruce Springsteen will appear with Hillary Clinton on November 7 at her final campaign rally in Philadelphia.

The star will join Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and the First Lady and Jon Bon Jovi at a rally in Philadelphia, the night before Election Day.

Both Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi will perform at the Independence Hall event in the crucial swing state.

Hillary Clinton will also deliver her last speech to the American people before the Election Day.

Donald Trump’s campaign has admitted the Republican nominee lags behind rival Democratic Hillary Clinton with just over two weeks before Election Day.

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said: “We are behind. She has some advantages.”

“We’re not giving up. We know we can win this.”

On October 21, Donald Trump made a rare admission that he could lose.

New polls suggest Hillary Clinton remains well ahead nationally and in several battleground states.

Her campaign has predicted this is going to be “the biggest election in American history”.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robbie Mook told Fox News on October 23: “More people are going to turn out than ever before.”

Polling in Republican strongholds like Utah and Arizona suggest these states could back a Democrat for the first time in decades.

The polls may be wrong in Arizona but if they are correct, it may be the start of a Democratic trend that doesn’t just put the state in play in a Clinton 2016 rout scenario, it makes Arizona a legitimate swing state in coming elections.

For Democrats, that’s a dream scenario, giving them new and plentiful paths to electoral success.

For Republicans, it could mean the start of a long-term political nightmare.

That apparent change to the electoral map has prompted a shift in strategy for the Clinton camp, which is spending money on helping Democrats running in close House or Senate races.

Hillary Clinton said she didn’t even bother responding to Donald Trump anymore and would instead spend time “emphasizing the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot”.

Donald Trump’s campaign manager said the Clinton team had a huge financial advantage in how much they could spend on negative ads against the Republican nominee, and high-profile campaigners.

“She has a former president, who happens to be her husband, campaigning for her. The current president and first lady, vice president, all much more popular than she can hope to be,” said Kellyanne Conway.

But this election does not feel over when you realize the depth of support Donald Trump has on the campaign trail, she said.

However, Donald Trump reflected on defeat for the first time on October 21 when he said that – win, lose or draw – he would be happy with himself.

A day later, the billionaire announced a raft of measures for his first 100 days in office, that include used curbs on lobbying and new trade and climate change negotiations.

With just 16 days until Election Day, much of the recent focus has been on controversies linked to Donald Trump’s campaign.

On October 22, he promised to sue every woman who had accused him of assault.

Donald Trump also repeated his claims that the election is rigged, because of voter fraud at polling booths and media bias.

On October 23, Eric Trump said his father would accept the outcome but only if it was a “fair” election.

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US Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire as questions emerge over why he did not tell President Barack Obama that David Petraeus was having an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Eric Holder was told by the FBI that they were investigating the relationship between the director of the CIA and Paula Broadwell in late summer, but appears not to have shared the information with anyone else.

Barack Obama did not find out about the scandal until Wednesday – just two days before David Petraeus resigned – even though multiple senior politicians had apparently been aware of it for months.

The revelation that Eric Holder knew about David Petraeus’ infidelity could increase pressure on Barack Obama to replace him when he puts together his Cabinet for the next four years.

The FBI started probing emails sent by Paula Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a family friend of David Petraeus, in May 2012, and soon discovered that she had been in a romantic relationship with the decorated former general.

Towards the end of the summer, the FBI contacted Eric Holder’s office in order to seek the authority to interview Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus.

The Attorney General, a longtime ally of Barack Obama, must have known about the affair from this point, but did not tell the President about it despite the possibility it could end the career of David Petraeus, one of the most respected soldiers of his generation.

Conservatives – who have long opposed Eric Holder over his role in the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running investigation – attacked the Attorney General over his silence.

“The idea that the White House didn’t learn of this potential problem until Election Day, I just find incomprehensible,” John Bolton, former ambassador to the UN, told Fox News.

“Did the Attorney General sit on this information for two months?”

Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz added: “Notification should have also gone to the President – immediately.”

Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire as questions emerge over why he did not tell President Barack Obama that David Petraeus was having an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell

Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire as questions emerge over why he did not tell President Barack Obama that David Petraeus was having an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell

David Petraeus’ affair: who knew what and when. The timeline of the downfall

September 6, 2011:

David Petraeus was unanimously appointed to be the head of the Central Intelligence Agency after spending over 37 years in the military.

November 2011:

David Petraeus allegedly began his affair with Paula Broadwell, a former Army reservist and doctoral researcher who was writing a biography of Petraeus.

May 2012:

The FBI first officially knew that Paula Broadwall was sending threatening emails to Jill Kelley, a family friend of David Petraeus. There is no indication that Jill Kelley had any sort of romantic affair with David Petraeus, but the threatening nature of the emails from Paula Broadwell suggest that she felt threatened in some way by Jill Kelley’s close connection to David Petraeus.

End of Summer 2012:

Paula Broadwall’s affair with David Petraeus is thought to have formally ended in July, though it was not until the end of the summer that the FBI realized it was David Petraeus emailing Paula Broadwall because he had been using a Gmail account established under a pseudonym for their personal communications, some of which was sexually explicit in nature.

At an unspecified date at the end of the summer, the FBI investigators notified the Attorney General’s office – and Attorney General Eric Holder himself – because they needed the authority to interview Paula Broadwall and David Petraeus. In telling the AG, investigators were clear that they were looking into the possibility of pressing criminal charges against Paula Broadwell for either her threats against Jill Kelley or any illegal action that stemmed from the communication with David Petraeus.

September 2012:

Paula Broadwell was first interviewed at some point in September, when she admitted to the affair and turned over her computer.

October 2012:

In mid-October, Republican Representative David Reichert was told of a national security investigation involving David Petraeus by an unidentified FBI informant. David Reichert then forwarded that tip to Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader and the one of the most powerful Republicans in the country, on October 27.

The week before the Election, late October 2012:

From there, the circle began to widen as David Petraeus himself was interviewed the week before the Election, during which he admitted the affair but said that he was not the one to give Paula Broadwall the classified documents that investigators found on her computer.

She echoed that statement during her second interview with investigators on November 2. FBI and justice department officials then discussed their findings for three days, deciding that they did not have sufficient evidence to charge either Paula Broadwall or David Petraeus on a criminal level.

Election Day, November 6, 2012:

At 5:00 p.m. on Election Day, the FBI told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about their investigation, and he waited until Wednesday evening to tell White House officials that David Petraeus was considering resigning.

Thursday November 8, 2012:

It was not until Thursday that President Barack Obama was informed, and he met with David Petraeus that day but did not immediately accept his resignation, waiting until Friday to let the disgraced General quit.

In the hours before David Petraeus’ public announcement on Friday, the circle drastically widened and Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee learned of the plan.

Dianne Feinstein contacted David Petraeus and asked him whether he thought it was truly necessary for him to leave his post. Citing his belief in leadership coming from the top-down, he said it was the best thing for him to do.

Nate Silver, a New York Times blogger and celebrity numbers wiz, is set to make millions for his spot-on election prediction.

Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistician who developed his own formula for predicting presidential outcomes, bet MSNB morning host Joe Scarborough $2,000 that Barack Obama would win the election on November 6.

Both men agreed to donate their winnings to charity.

Nate Silver won and is now poised to take in far more than his initial bet, Business Insider reports.

Nate Silver, who started his career analyzing baseball players’ performances, earned $700,000 for a two book deal with Penguin after calling the 2008 presidential election, according to the New York Observer.

Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistician who developed his own formula for predicting presidential outcomes

Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistician who developed his own formula for predicting presidential outcomes

On Election Day Business Insider proposed that Nate Silver could potentially double those earnings in 2012 with more book deals and high-paid speaking gigs if he were to successfully call the election again.

In addition to blogging for the New York Times, Nate Silver is the founder of his own much-read blog FiveThirtyEight.com.

Nate Silver was the topic of a Today show segment on Friday after successfully predicting Barack Obama’s win.

“He’s becoming a bit of a celebrity,” Today show host Andrea Canning told viewers.

“President Obama may have been the big winner this week, but coming in a close second: New York Times blogger, statistician and self-described geek, Nate Silver.”

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Many of Americans were upset when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the election and most of them used social media to post shockingly racist tweets against President Barack Obama.

A map collected by Floating Sheep, a collective of geography academics, shows the shocking demographic of racist “hate tweets”, many of them collected from states that were won by Mitt Romney.

The majority of the tweets, as Jezebel noted, were often from young white residents in southern states.

One male user wrote on Election Day following Romney’s loss: “Ok we pick a worthless n***** over a full blooded American what the h*** has our world come its (sic) called the white house for a reason.”

Another wrote: “F*** you, Obama. Your (sic) a stupid n***** and you don’t do anything good for our country.”

Using geodata called DOLLY (Data On Local Life and You), Floating Sheep mapped out tweets beginning November 1. They then calculated the percentage of each state’s so-called hate tweets in relation to the gross number of tweets coming out of that state.

Their results showed that states like Arkansas and Mississippi were relatively inundated with racist tweets. However, they measured only the quantity of tweets, noting that a lone Twitter user could be sending out dozens of vitriolic tweets all on their own, thus adding to the location-inspired measure, or LQ.

A map collected by Floating Sheep, a collective of geography academics, shows the shocking demographic of racist hate tweets after Barack Obama re-election

A map collected by Floating Sheep, a collective of geography academics, shows the shocking demographic of racist hate tweets after Barack Obama re-election

The map also reveals other southern states like Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas had their fair share of people tweeting bigoted things. Floating Sheep noted that both the East and West coast had a lower number of such tweets.

The site noted, too, that the phenomenon wasn’t only in the south – a series of racist tweets trickled up the Eastern Seaboard, and could also be found in Utah and Missouri.

While it was not openly addressed by the candidates on the campaign trail, political pundits have insisted that demographics and race played a huge role in helping Barack Obama keep the White House.

On Election Day, a riot broke out at The University of Mississippi – known as Ole Miss – as more than 400 students yelled out racial slurs and burned Obama-Biden campaign posters after the Democratic incumbent was crowned the victor.

Emotions ran high among the angered college conservatives in Oxford, Mississippi, with university police being called in shortly after midnight to diffuse the crowd.

The incident began as a small gathering of frustrated voters, meeting to share their misery at Barack Obama getting another four years in office, shortly after midnight.

But word soon spread over social media and the crowd began to swell to hundreds of students, yelling out racial slurs, chanting anti-Obama rhetoric and some reportedly throwing rocks at cars.

Police were called and told the crowd to go home but their presence only attracted more attention and the mass began to multiply.

Two students were arrested in the fracas, one for public intoxication and one for failure to comply with police orders, the university confirmed.

“Disperse or go to jail,” University Police Department officers told the crowd, according to the student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian.

But Ole Miss student Nicholas Carr tweeted that the whole thing was being overblown, saying that more people were taking pictures of the so-called riot than actually joining in on the chanting.

“I was there the whole time. No rocks were thrown. There was 1 sign lit on fire. For about 45 seconds,” Nicholas Carr wrote.

“Mostly, it was 100s of college kids who heard the word riot and ran to take pictures and see what it was about. Again, no rocks or missiles thrown.”

But the school’s administration confronted students on Wednesday and blasted Tuesday’s behavior as “a very immature and uncivil approach to expressing their views about the election”, University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones said in statement.

“The gathering seems to have been fueled by social media, and the conversation should have stayed there.”

 

The final voting precincts on the west coast won’t even begin to be tallied until early Wednesday morning, but the election could be decided much earlier than that.

Polls begin to close at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and results will flood in not long thereafter. Whichever candidate reaches 270 electoral college votes wins the White House.

Crucially, Barack Obama won each of the swing states listed below in 2008.

7:00 p.m.: Virginia is the first battleground state to close its polls. Barack Obama has a slight lead in most recent polls, but the state is essentially a tossup. The president won the state in 2008 by 6.3% – but Mitt Romney has made it essential to his election strategy. If he wins Virginia, and its 13 electoral votes, it will confirm that the national race is as tight as everyone believed it to be. If Barack Obama wins, Mitt Romney’s chances of taking the White House become narrower.

Polls begin to close in North Carolina, as well. Barack Obama won the state by a narrow margin in 2008, though a strong rightward swing in the last four years means Romney has a large advantage.

7:30 p.m.: Polls close in Ohio – the most important swing state in the nation. This is a must-win for Mitt Romney. If he cannot take Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, he will have to win nearly every other swing state in the country. No Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio. If Barack Obama loses Ohio, his chances of winning reelection become significantly smaller. Watch the Cincinnati metro area – which is perhaps the most important region of the state for determining the overall outcome. Barack Obama won Ohio by 5.4% in 2008.

It is important to note that Barack Obama is likely to take an early lead in Ohio as early voters are counted first. Polls show he leads among people who cast their ballots before Election Day.

The final voting precincts on the west coast won't even begin to be tallied until early Wednesday morning, but the election could be decided much earlier than that

The final voting precincts on the west coast won’t even begin to be tallied until early Wednesday morning, but the election could be decided much earlier than that

8:00 p.m.: Florida, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania close their polls.

Florida is another essential state for Mitt Romney, though it is less important to Obama’s strategy. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is the largest swing state in the country. Mitt Romney has a 1.5-point advantage, though both candidates have fought hard for it. However, don’t expect rapid results from the Sunshine state. Ballots in Florida are long and voting lines are expected to be even longer – meaning it could be hours before results are tabulated.

Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes, is heavily leaning in Barack Obama’s favor, but Mitt Romney has fought hard to reduce the Democratic lead.

New Hampshire has just four electoral votes, but both candidates have visited multiple times. Barack Obama holds and edge in the polls, but Mitt Romney owns a house in the Granite State and was governor of neighboring Massachusetts.

9:00 p.m.: Wisconsin and Colorado polls close.

Colorado isn’t a big catch, with nine electoral votes, but it’s a major test of Barack Obama’s support among Hispanic voters. Both candidates have campaigned heavily here and Barack Obama has a narrow lead in recent polls.

A Mitt Romney win in Wisconsin would be hugely symbolic. With ten electoral votes, the state has not gone for a Republican since Ronald Reagan in 1984. However, Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan hails from Wisconsin and the divisive Republican Gov Scott Walker recently survived a recall election. Polls show Barack Obama has a four-point lead in polls.

10:00 p.m.: Iowa and Nevada, the last of the swing states, close their polls.

Iowa has just six electoral votes, but it’s important to Barack Obama – it’s the state where his presidential campaign began in 2008. The president currently leads here, though it’s a traditionally white, working-class state with a largely rural electorate – all Mitt Romney’s strong points.

Nevada, also six electoral votes, is the westernmost swing state. Barack Obama leads here in polls, as well, though the economy has been badly battered by the housing crisis and unemployment is more than 11% – much higher than the rest of the nation.

 

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Staten Island residents were guided to a polling site in the dark this morning by flares as problems mounted for New York voters across the city struggling with power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

With hundreds of temporary polling places in operation across the battered East Coast, voters in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island lined in pitch black to cast their ballots in outdoor tents as police officers stood guard.

In Rockaway Park in Queens, voting was reportedly delayed because of a loss of power and in New Jersey tens of thousands of e-mail voters were thrown into panic after they were told they had to send in hard copies of their ballots as well – with no exceptions.

Across the East Coast problems were compounded by near freezing temperatures early this morning at temporary polling stations and New York’s MTA said it was providing free ‘voter shuttles’ today for people in the Rockaways, Staten Island and Coney Island whose normal polling stations were destroyed or damaged in last week’s storm.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged city residents to check the Board of Elections website to discover any polling changes as government officials struggled to ensure that everyone who wants to vote can.

“Vote. It is our most precious right,” said Michael Bloomberg on election eve.

However, with the myriad of problems presenting residents with barriers to vote, some are simply not bothering.

“We’ve got too many concerns that go beyond the national scene,” said Staten Island resident Paul Hoppe – who lost his home in last week’s massive storm which claimed over 100 lives across the nation.

 

Staten Island residents were guided to a polling site in the dark this morning by flares as problems mounted for New York voters across the city struggling with power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy

Staten Island residents were guided to a polling site in the dark this morning by flares as problems mounted for New York voters across the city struggling with power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy

 

Across New Jersey almost 100 polling stations across the state are without power as the Lieutenant Governor performed a U-turn last night and said that the state does need email voters to submit hard copies of their ballots by mail immediately.

The move which allowed no exceptions for victims of Sandy caused massive confusion, as earlier in the day Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno had told county-level officials to accept e-mailed ballots until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

However, the security risks inherent in voting remotely was deemed a danger that could compromise the result and the Lt. Gov was forced to issue new advice to beleaguered voters across the state who are keen to vote.

The confusing about-turn was designed to relieve the damage caused by flooding and winds from Hurricane Sandy, which has made hundred of polling locations unavailable nationwide.

However, voting experts were unanimous that her advice was incorrect: “You must have a paper ballot backup,” said Penny Venetis, a professor at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark.

“Voters’ e-mails can be modified or interfered with – without their knowledge – coming into the county election computers,” said Andrew Appel to NJ.Com, a computer science professor at Princeton University.

“E-mail voting is completely untrustworthy and insecure unless it’s backed up by paper ballots that a voter signs and sends in.”

Larry Norden, a voting-rights advocate for New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said the email option wouldn’t be viable for voters still without power.

“My biggest concern about all this is confusion. These places need to take statewide action to make sure people who have been displaced know there is some way they can vote,” said Larry Norden.

Meanwhile, problems for voters not affected by Sandy began to mount during the early morning.

Voting machine problems have caused delays and long lines at one polling station in a heavily populated Indianapolis suburb.

Hamilton County residents had to wait nearly 30 minutes to vote at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers because voting machines weren’t operating when that polling site opened Tuesday.

WTHR-TV reports that by the time the problem was fixed a half-hour later the school’s gym was filled with voters and the line spilled out the door.

The heavily Republican county north of Indianapolis saw other polling station problems, but those were quickly fixed.

Hamilton County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson says cards used to clear tallies from machines before voting begins were improperly programmed. Some 500 machines in about 150 polling places had to be reset once those cards were reprogrammed.

Because of the turbulent counting process and new regulations about proper ballot submissions, there is a distinct possibility that the country will not know the next president for days or weeks after they cast their votes.

A half-dozen problems are at the top of the list for political analysts, who are zoning in on new voter identification requirements and provisional ballot measures in a number of states as two legal issues.

The hurricane may play a role in any potential battle over a close popular vote, as would any machine malfunction issues that inevitably arise every election.

The final two problem areas come from a group of civilians from a subset of the Tea Party who are intent on serving as extra minders at polling stations to look out for fraud, and the onslaught of lawsuits that has already begun in Florida over the deadline for early voting.

Echoes of the mess created in Florida back in 2000 are already flashing before pundits’ eyes as the Democratic Party filed lawsuits calling for an extension of the early voting deadline because of excessive lines this weekend.

Though the early voting period officially ended on Saturday, the Democrats challenged- and were quickly rebuked by- Republican governor Rick Scott by demanding the deadline was extended.

The lawsuits were rejected, and now the focus turns solely to Tuesday.

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Barack Obama won election in Hart’s Location, one of two tiny New Hampshire villages that get to cast the first votes of the presidential race on Election Day.

Barack Obama won with 23 votes, Mitt Romney received 9 and Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1 vote.

In 2008, Barack Obama received 17 of the 29 votes cast.

Barack Obama won election in Hart's Location, one of two tiny New Hampshire villages that get to cast the first votes of the presidential race on Election Day

Barack Obama won election in Hart’s Location, one of two tiny New Hampshire villages that get to cast the first votes of the presidential race on Election Day

President Obama and Mitt Romney tied in Dixville Notch, the other New Hampshire town that enjoys first-vote status.

Each candidate received five votes – the first tie in Dixville Notch history.

In 2008, Barack Obama received 15 of the 21 votes cast.

The towns have proudly held their first-vote status since 1948.

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Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent the day before the election visiting key swing states and making final pitches to voters.

Mitt Romney went to Florida, where polls suggest he has the edge, and then to Virginia, New Hampshire and Ohio.

President Barack Obama appeared in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio, joined at rallies by Bruce Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z.

The election will be decided in just a handful of states, with Ohio in particular seen as crucial to victory.

Barack Obama closed his re-election campaign in Des Moines, Iowa, – the city where his bid for the presidency began in early 2007.

At a late-night rally, he told the crowd that Iowa had started “a movement that spread across the country”.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, was due to end his campaign with a late-night rally in New Hampshire but made the surprise announcement that he would extend campaigning into election day itself – visiting Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are running almost neck-and-neck in national polls, in a campaign that has cost more than $2 billion.

But surveys of the nine or so battleground states that will determine the election show Barack Obama narrowly ahead.

On the stroke of midnight, the first votes were cast and quickly counted in the tiny village of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire. They resulted in a tie with five votes each for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The race has been most intense in Ohio – no Republican has ever made it to the White House without winning there.

Mitt Romney would become the first Mormon president of the US if he wins on Tuesday.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent the day before the election visiting key swing states and making final pitches to voters

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent the day before the election visiting key swing states and making final pitches to voters

In Fairfax, Virginia just outside Washington DC, the former Massachusetts governor said the president had failed to make good on the promise of his 2008 campaign and it was time for a new direction.

“Look at the record,” he exhorted supporters.

“Talk is cheap, but a record is real and it’s earned with effort. When the president promised change, you can look and see what happened. Four years ago then-candidate Obama promised to do so very much but he’s done so very little.”

He summed up his pitch to voters: “Do you want four more years like the last four years? Or do you want real change?”

In Ohio, Bruce Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z helped warm up a crowd for Barack Obama before the president appeared.

“I’ve got a lot of fight left in me and I hope you do,” Barack Obama told the rally, his voice hoarse from nearly non-stop campaigning.

“The folks at the very top in Washington don’t need another champion. They’ll always have a seat at the table. The people who need a champion are the people whose letters I read every day.

“We’ve come too far to turn back now. We’ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint.”

Thirty million Americans have already cast their ballot through early voting across 34 states. In the 2008 presidential election, 130 million people voted.

With the election expected to be decided by a razor-thin margin, both sides are readying teams of lawyers for legal fights.

Democrats in Florida have filed a legal case demanding an extension of time available for early voting, citing unprecedented demand after voters reportedly queued up for hours on Sunday,

In Ohio, Republican election officials were going to court on Monday to defend an 11th-hour directive to local election officials that tightens requirements needed for provisional ballots to be counted.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed an order allowing residents to vote at any polling place, not just the one to which they had been assigned.

The city and surrounding areas were devastated by super-storm Sandy last week. Many residents remain without power and many polling places were damaged.

Activists have been stepping up efforts across the crucial swing states.

In Wisconsin, student volunteers have been putting in 14-hour days in an effort to deliver the state for Barack Obama.

Average of national opinion polls shows Barack Obama heading into election day with a single-point lead among likely voters, 49% to 48%.

Mitt Romney remains favored among whites, older people and evangelical Christians; Barack Obama among women, non-whites and young adults.

In the crucial swing state of Ohio, a RealClearPolitics.com average of polls shows Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 49.6% to 46.6%.

The election is decided by the electoral college. Each state is given a number of electoral votes in rough proportion to its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral votes becomes president.

A handful of governors, the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are also up for election on Tuesday.

Republicans are expected to keep control of the House, while Democrats were tipped to do the same in the Senate.

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As the East Coast tries to get back on its feet after the damage from Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey has announced that residents can vote by email in the upcoming presidential election.

Flooding, damaged roads and power outages have forced many Jerseyites from their homes and the electronic option will allow first responders who are working away from home and those displaced by the storm to cast their ballot.

Hurricane Sandy, that barreled down on New Jersey and New York on October 29, has claimed 110 lives, displaced thousands and left millions without power for days.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his counterpart in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have been reviewing how to prepare their respective states for November 6 – while simultaneously trying to restore electricity and access to food and water.

Both states have asked power companies to prioritize electricity to polling stations this coming Tuesday.

New Jersey will allow any state resident that has been displaced by the storm to qualify as an overseas voter, meaning they can submit their ballot by fax or email.

New Jersey residents told they can vote via email as the Northeast scrambles to prepare polling stations after Sandy

New Jersey residents told they can vote via email as the Northeast scrambles to prepare polling stations after Sandy

Governor Chris Christie also mandated that county clerks open their offices over the weekend to allow early voting and has called for paper ballots to be sent to polling stations still without power.

“Time on your hands? Tired of cleaning stuff up? Go there in person, you’ll get a ballot, you vote and hand it in and you’re done,” Chris Christie said at a press conference, encouraging residents to not let the storm prevent them from exercising their right to vote.

“There’s no reason why anybody shouldn’t vote. We’re going to have a full, fair, transparent, open voting process,” he added.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to address the issue of polling station power availability but told reporters that the Board of Elections has jurisdiction over those centers.

“They have known for six days now that we were going to have some problems and hopefully they had backup plans anyway,” he said, casting some doubt on their preparedness though much of the city will likely have power by next Tuesday.

Many counties in upstate New York are still without power but officials have noted that paper ballots are primarily used, so the power outage should not impact a person’s ability to vote but access to polling stations might be a difficulty for many voters.

After the storm swept through the East Coast, local officials assessed the damage and some actually wondered if the destruction was severe enough to merit the postponement of the presidential election.

But the idea was dismissed given the limited geographic scope of the storm and the monumental impact of rescheduling the decision day for the U.S. Commander in Chief.

Changing the date of a national Election Day, which has never actually occurred before, can only occur by an act of Congress, according to legislation from 1845.

 

As the East Coast is still reeling from the devastation brought on by Superstorm Sandy forecasters are already warning of a powerful new nor’easter storm front coming in from the Atlantic, bringing 45 mph gusts of wind mixed with snow and rain.

The beleaguered coast line is expected to face the storm from Tuesday to Thursday – potentially casting a shadow over Election Day.

At least New York City and the surrounding area may escape a beating, as forecasters expect most of the severe weather will hit northern New England – meaning it should land hundreds of miles north from where Sandy reached the continent.

However, New York and New Jersey can expect frigid winds and rain as hundreds of thousands remain without power and homeless.

A nor’easter is a powerful storm that thrives on cold air. Severe nor’easters can bring hurricane-force winds and blizzards.

AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist Henry Margusity said: “For millions of people still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, this is not welcome news.

“Thousands are projected to still be in the dark on Election Day, following Sandy’s impact.

“The weather pattern remains volatile for another storm to form on the East Coast, but nothing like Sandy. A storm that would be more normal for early November.”

Meanwhile, NBC News meteorologist Al Roker said: “This is just what we don’t need.

“You look at those winds coming counterclockwise, bringing in with it the potential for one to two more inches of rain, wind gusts of 45 miles per hour and wet snow inland just along the New York/New Jersey border. We’re talking about wet snow mixing in.

“The problem with this, with these winds of 45 miles per hour and already compromised beaches along New Jersey and Long Island waves of any consequence could cause big problems.”

He added: “It’s just a matter of how strong this system is going to be.”

East Coast line is expected to face a nor’easter winter storm from Tuesday to Thursday, potentially casting a shadow over Election Day

East Coast line is expected to face a nor’easter winter storm from Tuesday to Thursday, potentially casting a shadow over Election Day

The European Centre Medium Range Forecast predicted the storm will form off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina on Tuesday.

EURO detected Hurricane Sandy and predicted its devastating landfall 8 days before it hit.

By Wednesday, the storm is expected to hook into southern New England.

Forecasters said that the storm will have nowhere near the strength of Sandy and the winds will likely not be powerful enough to be damaging.

However, the storm will bring more rain and bad weather to a region that has not even begun to recover from Monday’s onslaught.

“Snowfall would be confined to northern New England. Also, this system will not be anywhere as impactful as Sandy,” Tom Niziol, the winter weather expert for Weather.com, wrote.

Forecasters still don’t know the exact impact or path of the storm, and cautioned that it could hit other parts of the coast – potentially even New York.

Consolidated Edison, which handles New York City and the Hudson Valley, still has 650,000 customers without power – and said many of them won’t have electricity restored for another ten days.

Two of New Jersey’s largest utility companies reported more than 2million customers still in the dark.

What is a nor’easter?

The nor’easter is a winter storm conceived by the meeting of cold arctic air with the warmer ocean air from the Gulf Stream.

The storms usually develop from a low-pressure system in the south, typically in the Gulf of Mexico, and then pushed upward.

They often cause severe flooding along coastlines, erosion, and blizzard conditions – but just as dangerous is the bitter Arctic air that gets dragged along by the weather system.

They storms can come at any time of year, but are mainly seen in winter, where the conflicting wind conditions can quickly spiral into a hurricane.

Nor’easters usually bring massive amounts of precipitation, high winds and large waves and with a full moon, when tides are at their highest, the storm surge could reach as high as 6 to 11 feet.

“The total is greater than the sum of the individual parts,” said Louis Uccellini, the environmental prediction chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists about the dramatic weather.

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One week before a close election, Superstorm Sandy has confounded the presidential race, halted early voting in many areas and led some to ponder whether the election might even be postponed.

It could take days to restore electricity to more than 8 million homes and businesses that lost power when the storm pummeled the East Coast – leading experts to question whether the election can be put back from November 6th.

While the answer is of course yes in theory, the probability of the choice between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama being postponed is unlikely despite the devastating effect Hurricane Sandy had on 60 million people across the north-east, or one-sixth of the population.

But as the storm left its trail of destruction behind, even some of those intimately involved in the election seemed in the dark about what options are available to cope with the storm.

Asked Monday whether President Barack Obama had the power to reschedule the election, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he wasn’t sure.

However, constitutionally, the President doesn’t set the date for the election, Congress does.

Congress could act within the next week to change the date, but that would be tough because lawmakers are on recess and back home in their districts campaigning for re-election.

Plus, it’s likely that would mean changing the date for the entire country, not just those affected by the storm.

What’s more, Congress only selects the date for federal elections, so changing the date would wreak havoc for state and local elections also scheduled for November 6th.

Election Day could be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy

Election Day could be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy

“For those states that don’t already have an election emergency process in place, any departure from the established election process could easily give rise to court challenges about the legitimacy of the election,” said Steven Huefner, professor at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law to ABC News.

“Even states with an emergency plan might find themselves facing litigation over specific ways in which they’ve implemented their emergency plan.”

Some have asked if it is likely for the election to go ahead but to allow New Jersey and New York to vote at a different time afterwards.

That is possible, but the legal issues get tricky. States, by and large, are in charge of their own elections.

Each state has its own laws dealing with what to do if an emergency jeopardizes voting and who can make the call.

Federal law says that if a state fails to conduct an election for federal races on the day Congress chooses, the state legislature can pick a later date.

Nevertheless, experts told ABC News that even minor contingency arrangements, like keeping polls open longer in some precincts or moving polling locations, will probably lead to legal challenges and more provisional voting, which can delay election results.

But state and federal laws don’t always jive perfectly. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has said his state’s laws don’t grant him authority to reschedule the presidential election.

Despite no presidential election ever being postponed, some are pointing to past precedents where voting has been delayed.

New York City was holding its mayoral primary when terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and the city rescheduled the election.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana’s governor postponed municipal elections in New Orleans after elections officials said polling places wouldn’t be ready.

However, what is most likely is a compromise for those affected by the havoc caused by the storm.

Voting hours could be extended at various locations and in places where electronic voting machines are in use, paper ballots could be used instead.

Some areas also might choose to move polling locations if existing ones are damaged, inaccessible or won’t have power on Election Day.

But even amending Election Day to accommodate the affected would create problems in themselves.

If poll hours are extended, under a 2002 law passed by Congress in response to the disputed 2000 presidential election, any voters who show up outside of regular hours must use provisional ballots, which are counted later and could be challenged.

Hurricane Sandy’s impact was felt in some of the most competitive states in the presidential race, including Virginia and Ohio.

The more provisional ballots that are cast, the greater the chances are that the winner won’t be known until days or even weeks after the election.

There’s another issue if poll hours are extended in some areas – such as counties with the worst storm damage – and not in others.

That could prompt lawsuits under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, said Edward Foley, an election law expert at The Ohio State University.

Relocating polling places is also risky because it could drive down turnout, said Neil Malhotra, a political economist at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

“If you disrupt their routine and the polling place they’ve always been going to, even if you don’t move it very far, they vote less,” he said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s administrator, Craig Fugate, said Monday he anticipated the storm’s impact could linger into next week and affect the election.

He said FEMA would look at what support it could provide to states before the election.

“This will be led by the states,” Craig Fugate said.

 

President Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney are on track to raise more than $2 billion by Election Day – making it by far the most costly presidential race in history.

By November 6, both candidates will have each passed the $1 billion barrier in donations.

Barack Obama is already there, according to financial disclosures filed yesterday. The president and his Democrat Party have tallied up about $1.06 billion while Mitt Romney and the Republicans have collected $954 million since the turn of the year.

By comparison, Barack Obama raised a total of $750 for his successful 2008 campaign and his opponent, John McCain, raised just $130 million, which included a government grant for more than two-thirds of the total.

The sources of the money underline the difference between the two rivals and the kind of support they are attracting.

Wall Street has invested more heavily in Mitt Romney than any White House candidate in memory, according to the New York Times, which obtained the disclosures last night. Employees of financial firms have given more than $18 million to the ex-financier’s campaign.

They have also donated hundreds of millions more to so-called “super PACS” – groups working independently of the official campaigns that often provide cash for adverts backing their chosen candidates. The super PAC cash is not included in the campaign totals.

Doctors, insurance companies, accounting and property firms are all turning more to the Republican hopeful than they did four years ago.

Barack Obama has set his sights more on Silicon Valley and it has clearly paid off with technology executives donating $14 million to his coffers, much more than last time around.

Retirees – the biggest source of money for both sides – as well of employees of retailers, hospitals, nursing homes and women’s groups have all sided in bigger numbers with the Democrat incumbent.

Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney are on track to raise more than $2 billion by Election Day

Barack Obama and his rival Mitt Romney are on track to raise more than $2 billion by Election Day

Like in 2008, the vast majority of Barack Obama’s money came in small donations – 55% of his donations came in amounts of less than $200. Just 13% of his cheques were for $2,500, the maximum amount donors are allowed to give as individuals.

The Obama campaign has received donations from 4.2 million people, about a million more than in 2008.

By contrast, Mitt Romney has profited from support from big business donors. Just 22% of his cash came from people donating less than $200 while 45% was for the $2,500 maximum.

Of the super PACS, Mitt Romney was by far the biggest winner. Groups aligned with Mitt Romney have spent $302 million on campaign advertising, compared with about $120 million for groups supporting Barack Obama.

Wrapping up a 40-hour battleground state blitz yesterday, Barack Obama headed to his hometown of Chicago and cast his ballot 12 days before Election Day.

The stopover was more than a photo opportunity – it was a high-profile attempt to boost turnout in early voting, a centerpiece of the president’s strategy

Michael Toner, a Republican campaign finance lawyer and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said the close race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and the sharply polarized electorate have also played a role in accelerating the dash for dollars.

“I don’t know any campaign manager who thinks they have too much money. In this political 50-50 environment you can’t ever have enough,” Michael Toner said.

“Every last million could make the difference in who is elected.”

But the emergence of super PACs and other outside groups, emboldened partly by the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010, has done more than anything else to reshape the contours of presidential campaign fundraising.

A handful of federal court cases have broadly eased campaign finance regulations, allowing donors to give unlimited sums. That kind of money has largely been funneled to super PACs, which can raise and spend money on behalf of candidates as long as they don’t coordinate expenditures or strategy with the campaign.

“The distinctive factor in this election is the outside money being spent and the corrupting money financing it,” said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime campaign finance reform advocate.

“It’s a symbol of the disastrous campaign finance system we have and the undue influence relatively few well-financed individuals and interest groups now have over government decisions.”

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is the top super PAC donor this year. Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire, has contributed more than $40 million to Republican super PACs, including those backing Mitt Romney and former candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

 

France is prepared for the second round of presidential election that could see a socialist winner for the first time since 1988.

In the first round socialist Francois Hollande won 28.6% of the vote, ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy on 26.2%.

Rising unemployment and the euro crisis have dominated the campaign.

Nicolas Sarkozy says he averted recession and will preserve a “strong France”. Francois Hollande contends the country is in “serious crisis” and needs change.

Polls in mainland France and Corsica will be open from 08:00 to 18:00, with voting stations in big cities remaining open for another two hours.

On Wednesday the two rivals took part in a testy debate, watched by an estimated 17.9 million people, and continued to campaign until Friday.

Francois Hollande – who has long been regarded as favorite – said turnout on election day could affect the result.

Nicolas Sarkozy said no election had ever been so “undecided”.

Nicolas Sarkozy says he averted recession and will preserve a "strong France” while Francois Hollande contends the country is in "serious crisis" and needs change

Nicolas Sarkozy says he averted recession and will preserve a "strong France” while Francois Hollande contends the country is in "serious crisis" and needs change

In the final days, each stepped up his appeals to voters who backed far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Francois Bayrou in the first round.

Marine Le Pen, who attracted 6.4 million voters, has said she would cast a blank ballot but called on supporters to “vote according to their conscience”.

Francois Bayrou, who attracted almost 9% of the first-round vote on 22 April, said he would back Francois Hollande in the second.

The socialist candidate has also been endorsed by hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won 11% of the vote.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been in office since 2007, has promised to reduce France’s large budget deficit and to tax people who leave the country for tax reasons.

Francois Hollande, for his part, has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1 million Euros a year.

He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.

If elected, Francois Hollande would be France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand, who completed two seven-year terms between 1981 and 1995.

It would also be the first time an incumbent president has lost a re-election bid in France since Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1981.

The presidential vote will be followed by a parliamentary election in June.