Feverish early-vote effort turns to Election Day

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 1:45 am •  Published: November 6, 2012
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A few miles away, Artie Rothenberg and Yonas Asfaw were heading out of the Obama campaign office on the edge of the Ohio State University campus, arms laden with information packets and leaflets designed to hang on doorknobs. Rothenberg, an OSU graduate student, voted last week and had the time to volunteer.

Asfaw, though, had driven eight hours from New York to volunteer in Ohio for Obama. "He needs my help more in Ohio than he does in New York," he said.

More than 700 miles away, in Enfield, N.H., Obama volunteer Sarah Ayres nervously drove down a dirt road, unsure if she would find the house on her list.

"There were no people home," she reported later. "But the goat was there. So I don't know if I should count that."

Scott Giesecke was in Romney's Bedford, N.H., office by 9 a.m. for another shift of phone calls, as he's done for months. By 10 a.m. the place was hopping with volunteers.

Giesecke said people have become numbed to the intrusion. "They've just been hammered," the Manchester Republican said.

No one had slammed a door in his face during weeks of door-knocking. "You have the occasional hang-up with people who are frustrated ... but you can't take it personally."

While volunteers practiced patience and manners, frustration with the long, negative campaign bubbled near the surface in some voting lines.

"There's been a level of intrusiveness in this election that is unprecedented, so I think we are all kind of dismayed about that and wanting that to be over," said Barb Jones, voting early in Milwaukee.

Obama, Romney and allied groups have spent more than $1 billion on television advertising since June, primarily in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In St. Petersburg, Fla., Sheila Harris was eager to cast her ballot to finally end the campaign. "I'm sick of all the negative stuff," she said. "I'm sick of the big, glossy fliers. And the phone calls - I'm sick of the phone calls."

At that moment, a local candidate who was campaigning for last-minute votes nearby handed Harris one of his fliers.

But the last grueling days of the campaign were also stoking the emotions of its footsoldiers. Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky started weeping Monday as she entered the Iowa City home of Rod Sullivan, a longtime friend and Obama volunteer.

"This is more than an election for us," Dvorsky said. "This is a very personal matter. We really have all been together in this."

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Associated Press writers Holly Ramer in New Hampshire, Ryan J. Foley in Iowa, Tamara Lush in Florida, Carrie Antlfinger in Wisconsin and Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland contributed to this report.