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By Baptiste Etchegaray

Voters do need a reward. The women association from the Columbia First Christian Church organized, as for every Election Day, a special lunch that anyone could attend, proud to wear the “I voted” button. For $6, you could get chili or potato soup, as well as a ham sandwich and a home made pie. The money raised goes to the church’s social missions. Women led the way but they are now joined by men “and this is fun!” explains Brenda Mosby, a cooker for the occasion. Almost 500 guests were served between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM in the canteen where politics as well as random neighborhood stuff were discussed.

Guests were rather aged and conservative. One of them voted for John McCain this morning because he served with him in Vietnam. “He’s a wonderful Christian, a smart guy, I’m sure he’s gonna win! I’ll tell you something: if the other man wins, we’ll have a war in this country down the road,” he said.

By Baptiste Etchegaray

The St Luke – UNC Methodist Church on Ash St has turned into a polling place today, something you would never see in France. This polling place is not like others: nobody is officially recorded there, it’s only in case there is excessive overflow of voters elsewhere. After voting, a laptop sends the information to the propper polling place.

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At 9:30 AM, the place was empty. Oh, don’t think people are not going to the polls today! It’s just that everything is going very well,” Election Supervising Judge Dan Fischbach explained. “And if you come back this evening after work, I guess it will be much busier!”

Sitting on a chair outside, a Democratic volunteer gives everyone a “Voter’s Bill of Rights” that reminds voters with their basic rights. As for example, “If you are in line at your polling place at 7:00 PM, you have the right to vote”.

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The volunteer, a retired director of a MBA program at MU, explains that on Election Day, churches are public areas where confession doesn’t matter. Ironically, his name was… Mickael Christy!

By Baptiste Etchegaray

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At the polling place in Memorial Union on MU campus, a dozen of students were already lining up before the opening time at 6pm. They were willing to be done with that election, at last. Since yesterday night, they have been receiving text messages from both campaigns urging them to go to the polls.

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The first voter was not a student though. Shuan Meriweather, 21, currently looking for a job, is an electoral staff himself in another polling place so he had to cast his vote very early. What drove him to the polls? Barack Obama, because he believes in his “Change We Need” slogan. “If John McCain gets elected, we’ll have 8 more years like we’ve had and we can’t affort it.” For his first electoral participation, he voted for all Democratic candidates, acknowledging that he is not really a political person. He didn’t answer the propositions at stake as he didn’t look the ballot at the back.

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Shuan Meriweather, a hip hop singer, wrote some songs to support Obama. There is only one issue he doesn’t really agree with the Democratic candidate: the right to carry arms. “I think we shouldn’t mess it up, this is a very important right, we never know what might happen, ” he said. Yet Obama remained rather silent on this issue during the campaign.

At 6.10am, Shuan Meriweather’s ballot was in the voting machine. In the US, there is no transparent ballot box like in France, nor public vote counting. The machine will be sent to the county’s clerk tonight to record the results.

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By Baptiste Etchegaray

Photos: Melissa Bounoua & Charlotte Pudlowki

It’s not that often we hear from McCain supporters in Columbia, MO. The liberal island surrounded by an ocean of conservatives makes local Republicans’ daily lives quite tough. Yet they still resist and when their hero is coming in town for a quick visit (see stories below) they surely respond the invitation and feel happy to express, at last, their opinions.

Why do they support McCain (or do not support Obama)?

Experience” and “Military background” were as expected commonly cited. But surprisingly, the young Republican voters who attended the “Come-To-See-McCain-While-He-Leaves-The-Smokehouse BarBQ-To-Get-In-His-Car-Meeting” were more radical. They go for John McCain because they simply “need respect“. Respect? “Respect for the flag, for the country“. According to them indeed, Barack Obama does a very bad job by “not putting the hand on his heart” during national anthem and “no wearing national flag“. All in all, he “doesn’t like the country.”

Young voters Sadie Turnbull, Jessica Schlager and Cole Mendenhall

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Do they feel depressed because of bad polls for McCain?

Not at all! They are still very optimistic about the outcome of the election. And this for three reasons:

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i) It’s not over until the votes are actually counted (Karine Bell)

ii) Poll institutes are not trustworthy: They can just say they poll and actually make up the numbers. By the way “I’ve never been polled” and “I’m like: where do they get some?” (Debbie Jones)

iii) Obama’s being ahead in the polls is just because the people that are supporting him are mostly Black people and they go for him only because of his race (Craig Chrisnan)