CLOSER TO HOME
The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 1, 2004 - 5A
senior Isiah Mays,
far left, and Bob
from left, talked
politics in Flint.
from right, and
witz, far right,
Kerry In Toledo.
Continued from page 1A
Now any job he can get lasts only two to three months, leav-
ing the certified mechanic to collect benefits from the local
Social Security office, where he picks up a monthly check of
At a nearby Taco Bell, manager Yashia Thames says she has
had it pretty good. She says she has a decent job with a great
health care plan - but the same is not true for the other employ-
ees at the fast food joint.
"The people that work under me have to turn to welfare to
compensate. It's been worse in the last four years. They don't
get much from Social Security," she said.
Thames added that the number of people coming in asking
for job applications had increased since 2000.
In a city of nearly 125,000 residents, 8.3 percent of the peo-
ple were jobless as late as last month - an unemployment rate
that's among the highest in the state,
according to the Bureau of Labor Sta-
tistics. Michigan's unemployment rate,
6.8 percent in September, is the second ;
highest in the nation.k
Because of this burden, Flint has
been a campaigning target for President
Bush and Democratic presidential hope-
ful John Kerry, both trying to convince
voters that they will best fix Flint's eco- K
nomic problems if elected tomorrow.
Yet most recent polls show the state
is evenly divided between Bush and
Kerry, and predictions will be hard to
make until ballots are counted.
One voting bloc that Kerry can count on is the United Auto
Workers. Flint is one of several Michigan cities where car pro-
duction has been vital to the economy, and most of its job loss
has been in the manufacturing sector. The UAW has sponsored
two advertising campaigns in favor of Kerry.
Michelle Kelly is ready to do just that. As one of the owners
of a nail and hair salon in a small residential area, she said she is
encouraging everyone to vote, regardless of who they may vote
for. But she will vote for Kerry, finding Bush at fault for almost
all domestic problems - especially health care, which has been
problematic for her since Bush took office.
"Because I'm self-employed, I always had to try and find
affordable health care," Kelly said. "Prior to Bush (taking
office), I was able to go to clinics and get free care, such as
mammograms. Now I can't even do that."
Next door, Otis Williams' Barbershop is full of people wait-
ing for a haircut. Owner Williams said he is also voting for
Kerry, but not because of the economic situation in Flint. His
business has been unaffected and consistent, he said between
phone calls to set up new appointments. His main concern
comes from Bush's foreign policy as well as the outsourcing
of jobs. His customers tell him that the companies they work
for, especially automotive giants, constantly travel to Mexico to
train workers and find cheap labor.
But he said many black voters in the area, including his
mother, are facing a dilemma in voting for Kerry.
"Since Kerry is such a liberal, he'll let a lot of the restric-
tions on gay marriage and abortion go," Williams said.
"Personally, I think that's the only positive thing Bush was
Bush supporters in the city are largely drawn to what they
consider the president's adherence to moral values. Isaiah
Mays is a student at Verity College, a Christian school in
the city, and said he knows who he will be voting for.
"I'm voting my Bush back in," said Mays, adding that the
president is one of his biggest heroes.
Mays is among many of Bush supporters who have strong
Christian backgrounds. Although
Mays said he realizes that people are
dying every day in Iraq, he said he
might not understand yet the wisdom
of what Bush had done. "I want some-
one that's going to make the right decision
whether I understand it or not, at least I'll
see it at the end,"he said. At the end, Mays
said it was important that Bush had an
"audience of one" and only sought God's
; approval when making decisions.
Similarly, Janice Caudle at Paul's
Pipe and Tobacco Shop has already
voted for Bush because of his stances
on abortion and gay marriage. "He's a
man of faith and he turns to the Lord for a lot of his deci-
sions," she said.
Caudle and her brother Dan Spaniola work at the shop,
owned by their father, Paul Spaniola. The Spaniolas would
not reveal who they supported, but they had strong opinions
about many domestic and foreign matters.
"(Business) is getting harder and harder because they put
more and more taxes on the owners. (General Motors) and
other big companies get big breaks, but the small businessman
doesn't get anything" he said.
His father, Paul, has been alive since William Taft was presi-
dent. He said the government covers the $3,600 shot he has to
get every four months for prostate cancer treatment, but warns
both men running for the White House to be careful or Social
Security will soon be gone.
He also criticized Bush for the current deficit the country
"This guy has gotten us so deep in debt that we'll never get
out of it," he said. "My grandchildren will pay for it."'
Continued from page 1A
Lucas County, where Toledo sits, is a key battleground in
the struggle for Ohio. In the 2000 presidential election, former
Vice President Al Gore won this area by a sizeable margin of
more than 30,000 votes out of more than 188,000 votes cast.
But some Republicans say a strong showing in Lucas County
could clinch the presidential race in the state. County votes are
not awarded on an all-or-nothing basis as in the Electoral Col-
lege, so campaigns must fight for every vote, even in heavily
"Lucas County is probably win-or-lose for us," said Mark
Bula, a Toledo resident and paid staffer at the Republican
regional office in Maumee. The Republican phone bank, staffed
by volunteers, was buzzing well after business hours on Satur-
At the same time, volunteers for the Democratic presidential
nominee John Kerry's campaign were
busy calling supporters from their phone
bank in Sylvania, another Toledo suburb.
"Right now Ohio is key," Kerry vol-
unteer Nathan Zeke said. "If we take this
state, it's game over for Bush." h
Both campaigns said they have vol-
unteers going door-to-door to encourage"
western Ohio residents to vote. Bula said
this election is the first time the Republi-
cans have conducted a grassroots cam-
paign of this scope.
"Have we taken a page out of the Dem-<
ocratic strategy? Probably. They've done
a really good job of getting out the vote in
their strongholds, and we need to do that,"
he said. "We have a chance to establish a stronghold in north-
Ohio's large number of electoral votes and outdated punch-
card ballots have led some to compare the Midwestern state to
Florida in the 2000 election.
If the number of rejected ballots exceeds the margin between
Bush and Kerry's votes, and the outcome of the election hinges
on Ohio's electoral votes, Americans may have to endure a
repeat of the Florida recount debacle of 2004.
Ohio typically plays a crucial role in the outcome of the presi-
dential election. Only two presidents have won the White House
without winning Ohio in the past century.
"This will probably be the Florida of 2004," said Greg Hodur,
a North Dakota lawyer who is working with the Kerry cam-
paign to inform Ohioans of their rights and monitor polls. "It's
almost inevitable that both sides will challenge the results," he
Legal challcnges over the state's punch-card ballots - used
in a majority of Ohio counties - have already arisen. The punch
cards are more error-prone than other ballots such as the optical
scan machines that most Michigan counties use.
The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the con-
stitutionality of the punch-card system, arguing that the fact that
black voters live predominantly in counties using the punch
cards, and that more of their votes may consequently be rejected;
is a violation of the principle of "one man, one vote."
"We certainly think that some of the minority communities
have been targeted," Hodur said.
A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for today.
Another legal battle may be fought over provisional ballots,
which are cast by voters whose names don't appear on precinct
rolls. A U.S. appellate court earlier this month upheld Ohio Sec-
retary of State Kenneth Blackwell's decision to not count pro-
visional ballots cast outside a voter's precinct, even if they are
submitted in the proper city or township. The Democrats, who
say Blackwell's order discriminates against poor and minority
voters because they move more often, have
not appealed the ruling but could do so after
The country will have to wait for more
than a week to find out who its next president
will be if Ohio becomes the deciding factor
in the election and the number of provisional
ballots is greater than the margin between
Bush and Kerry in the state. Under Ohio law;
election officials cannot begin counting pro-
visional ballots earlier than November 13.
State Republicans have challenged the
validity of thousands of voter registrations
submitted by Democrats. A federal appel-
late court ruled Friday that the registrations
would not be reviewed, but Republicans
could still appeal this decision.
Democrats have sued over the authority of Republican law-
yers to challenge votes in polling sites across the state.
All these controversies provide ample legal grounds on which
either camp can contest the outcome of tomorrow's election.
Still, volunteers who have come to Ohio hope to avoid costly
legal battles by turning out supporters at the polls.
One of these volunteers is James Weiss, an Episcopal priest
and theology professor at Boston College.
"The East Coast has heard John Kerry's message loud and
clear. Kerry's message needs to be heard more clearly in Ohio,"
Weiss said. "I've never been aware of an election that has gener-
ated this much crossing of state lines."
Chicago resident David Shiba said he took five days off from
work to volunteer for Bush's campaign in northwest Ohio. He
said he made nearly 1,000 calls in two days.
"Illinois in not a close race," Shiba said. "I wanted to go wher-
ever I could make a difference, and that's Ohio."