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Swing State Voting Still Key

SANTA FE, N.M. — Four days before the election, Santa Fe resident Denise Fort was headed to Pueblo, Colo., to help get out the Democratic vote there.

“A friend of mine in Colorado put out a notice on Facebook and said, ‘We need help,’ ” Fort said. “Colorado is a swing state, so it struck me as a good idea to go.”

The New York Times pegs Colorado as one of the seven “toss-up” states, inclining neither red nor blue, that will be critical in deciding the presidential election.

Polling Places
For a complete list of Santa Fe County polling places, see page 5.

With polls showing President Obama comfortably ahead of Republican challenger Mitt Romney here in New Mexico, more New Mexicans are leaving the state to help with campaigns in swing states, said Santa Fe Democratic Party chair Richard Ellenberg.

But that’s “mostly an individual effort,” he said, adding that the party is “happy to facilitate,” but its focus remains on getting out the Democratic vote in New Mexico.

Over at Republican headquarters, the tide of not-from-here campaign helpers may be running the other direction. Santa Fe party chairman Bruce Larsen said he was not aware of anyone from the local party who had gone elsewhere to help in get-out-the-vote efforts.

And the Republican National Committee is shifting people around as they see the need, including to New Mexico. “I think there are more people (from out of state) here now than in 2008,” Larsen said. “We have a very active get-out-the-vote campaign.”

Both party chairmen said the push to get their voters to the polls Tuesday involved everything from old-fashioned door-to-door efforts to using new social media.

“We’re doing all of it,” Larsen said. “We have an active group of younger interns who have been very helpful with the social media. We’re also block-walking and phone banking.”

Ellenberg said social media are effective in reaching younger voters – “we use Facebook and Twitter because that’s how some people communicate.”

But he said he still thinks more voters can be reached by phone, and get-out-the-vote efforts are even more effective door-to-door. “Face-to-face is better than 140 characters,” Ellenberg said.

On the eve of her trip to Colorado, Fort, who has also helped in get-out-the-vote efforts locally from time to time, agrees.

And, she said, she’s continually amazed that only a few days before the election, some voters remain undecided.

“With all the advertising, all the media coverage, you’d think people would be either jaded or have made up their minds,” Fort said. “But I meet people who really want to discuss the candidates. And I do have the feeling that people make up their minds because of the conversation I’ve had with them. It feels like part of the democratic process.”