By Melissa Bounoua

If you don’t have a TV and you don’t want to see the results alone in front of your computer, you would rather attend one of the numerous watch parties that will happen tonight in Columbia:

– At The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth street after Broadaway, will celebrate Election Day with local candidates and supporters of Barack Obama, Jay Nixon and other Democratic campaigns. Watch the results roll in on a big white screen and the doors open at 6pm (even if the results won’t be available at least before 2am).

The Blue NoteWatch party

Update: The Boone County Libertarian Party will be holding a watch party in the side room of the Heidelberg starting at approximately 6:30 PM, with a local theater troupe offering some political satire at around 7 PM.

-If you want to be surrounded by journalists and attend to a non-partisan Watch Party, go to the brand new Reynolds Journalism Institute (across the street from Heidelberg) on Ninth Street. It will start at 7:30pm.

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-The Assocation for the Advancement of Coloured people will have a Watch Party at the Second Baptist Church on Fifth Street and Broadway.

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-The Movie Theater RagTag, 10 Hitt Street, also has an Election Party, which start at 7pm. Election coverage from Comedy Central to Fox News & PBS along with live music, theater by Ross Taylor’s troupe and comedy during commercial breaks. “We don’t want to give away the party surprises, but political debates & eating contests figure in.” mention RagTag website.

Rag tag Election party

By Lisa Pham in Paris

parisFor the Americans in Paris, tonight will either be a night of celebration or despair.

Liz Webber, 22, an American intern at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, is planning to go to an all-night party hosted by Americans Abroad for Obama at the Palais Maillot in Paris where 1200 supporters are expected. “If McCain wins, I’ll try not to cry,” she says. Explaining that her birthday next year is the same day that the new President will take office, Liz hopes that she will “be drinking to celebrate and not to drown my sorrows.

Does it feel weird to be in Paris while the elections are on?I do feel slightly removed from it all,” she admits, “especially since I voted a few weeks ago by mail. But I am still very nervous!” Like most of her friends in New York, Liz is politically liberal. It is her second time voting in the presidential elections. “Although I do like Obama, I’m really voting for the party and not the person,” explains Liz. “The Republican beliefs in limited spending on social programs, tax cuts for the rich and curtailing a woman’s right to abortion completely go against my values.

With doors opening at midnight on Tuesday (8pm in the US), the party includes entertainment, analysis, bagels, cream cheese and live interactive blogging. The event should last until wednesday morning. There are also rumours of a Sarah Palin piñata to round off the festivities.

Depending on how close the results are, the Americans here in France might not know who wins until Thursday. Early indications are expected around midnight.“I’m looking forward to being surrounded by a lot of like-minded Americans and non-Americans,” says Liz. “I hope we end the night on a happy note.

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 Melissa Bounoua

We started at 5am this morning said Zoe Poelhma, 19, student at MU in communications, a Volunteer for the Obama campaign . Volunteers for the Democratic Party were already at the Speaker circle and in front of the Ellis Library on campus this morning. “We will have new volunteers coming and  urge every student to vote” she added. Polling places opened at 6am this morning and will close tonight at 7pm.

From Left to right, Sissi Xue, Elizabeth Anderson, and Kiki Schmitz are Democratic Volunteers. They at Speaker circle this morning around 7am

From Left to right, Sissi Xue, Elizabeth Anderson, and Kiki Schmitz are Democratic Volunteers. They at Speaker circle this morning around 7am

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Obama campaign volunteer Zoe Poelhma in front of the Ellis Library this morning.

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It is gonna be a long day, a crucial day, we have to remind to every student that they can vote, make sure that they know where they are supposed to vote. Mostly we are here to encourage people to vote, especially when the lines get long. We registered several thousands of students in Boone County this semester so the turnout should be huge” said Elizabeth Anderson, 22, a volunteer for the Obama campaign and a student at MU in biology and Psychology.

Where are the Republicans? We will be looking for them…

By Melissa Bounoua

November 4th, it is eventually the Election day. Students at MU are excited, but some of them won’t vote, even if they would love to. Because they are not US citizens. However, you can hear them talking politics, meet them at political meeting or even  find out that they are involved in a party.

The US Election doesn’t only raise the attention of American people” explains Saleem Alhabash, a PHD student at MU from Palestine, who conducts a survey about International students and the US Elections.* It is an historical moment that will influence the US Foreign policy so that’s normal for international students to be involved“.

So far, the preliminary results of the survey showed that students from all over the world answered the survey. “200 students answered the survey from 42 different countries. We had answers from really rare countries such as Trinidad and Tobago or Serbia and Montenegro or Vatican city” Results show that:

90% of the International students would take part in the Elections by voting if they were US citizens;

-almost 59 % expressed their unwillingness to vote for McCain; compared to only 4% expressed their unwillingness to vote for Obama.

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Prakash Jayabalan, 28, is an English PHD student in Pathobiology at MU. Not only is he really interested in the US elections, but he also voluntereed for the Obama campaign. “I have volunteered at Obama rallies, recruiting volunteers and given out leaflets after I first attended some Obama campaign meetings. But, being a non-US citizen I feel uncomfortable in advising people to vote a certain way.” If he was a US citizen, Prakash Jayalaban he would love to vote: “I would definitely vote. I would vote for Barack Obama though I do admire and respect John McCain. I feel very strongly Barack Obama would be the best leader to heal this divide and I feel strongly that his economic, foreign and energy policies are most akin to my own.

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Lasse Berg Sorensen at the Obama rally in Columbia, on Thursday October 30th

Lasse Berg Sorensen at the Obama rally in Columbia, on Thursday October 30th.

Lasse Berg Sorensen, a Danish student at MU, was at the Obama rally last thursday. “I already went to Kansas City to see Barack Obama two weeks ago and now he is here in the city where I study, I am so lucky to see one of the presidential candidate.

But Sorensen also had his own political point of view. “Missouri is known as a bellwether state and so I think candidates know the importance of Missouri”. McCain was here briefly last week and Palin was in Cape Girardeau saturday.” As the rally went on, he listened carefully to what the democratic candidate had to say: “He spoke a lot about environmental issues and in Denmark we are really concerned by that subject.”

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Benjamin Banizette, 21, French student at MU in Political science.

Benjamin Banizette, 21, French student at MU in Political Sciences.

Benjamin Banizette, 21, is a French student at MU, who studies politics.  He likes to analyse the presidential candidates’ speeches. He was at the Obama rally Thursday night with other international students:I am really excited to see how Sen. Obama lead his meeting tonight.”  “And, as a European student, I am really looking forward to know what the next American president will change because it will have an influence on my country“.

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By Melissa Bounoua

Tuesday 4th is Election Day this year. In 2004, it was Tuesday, November 2. If American citizens don’t hesitate to vote before going to work, on a business day, French people would  not probably do that. In France, voting always happen on Sundays, a day-off when most of the stores are close, unlike here in the US. But, why do national Elections always happen on Tuesdays?

By federal law since 1792, the U.S Congress permitted the states to conduct their presidential elections (or otherwise to choose their Electors) any time in a 34-day period before the first Wednesday of December, which was the day set for the meeting of the Electors of the U.S.

The American Constitution (Article II Section I) provided that Congress would determine the date of appointment of electors. In 1845, Congress enacted a law providing that “Tuesday after the first Monday of November of the year in which the electors are to be appointed as the national election day.

At that time, America was a predominantly agrarian society. Law makers decided to take into account that November was perhaps the most convenient month for farmers and rural workers to be able to travel to the polls.

Since most residents of rural America had to travel a significant distance to the county seat in order to vote, Monday was not considered reasonable since many people would need to begin travel on Sunday. This would have conflicted with Church services and Sunday worship. The fall harvest was over but the weather was still mild enough to permit travel over unimproved roads.

And why the first Tuesday after the first Monday? Lawmakers wanted to prevent election day from falling on the first of November for two reasons. First, November 1st is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of obligation for Roman Catholics. Furthermore, most merchants were used to doing their budget from the preceding month on the 1st. So Congress was worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might prove an influence on the vote.

However Election Day is a legal holiday in some states, including Delaware, Hawaï, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Some other states have laws that allow workers to take time off from employment without reprisal, and often without loss in pay. California law simply states employees must be allowed to vote, but since voting can be done before or after working hours no time off or pay is offered by many employers.

So TODAY…. is TUESDAY, it is time to go and VOTE!