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VOTER VIOLATIONS DOWN (Posted 4:57 p.m.) Although news outlets carried assorted reports of voter intimidation and equipment difficulties on Election Day, the reports to the Justice Department of voting violations actually fell substantially over 2004. DOJ spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson says the Civil Rights Division’s voter hotline received 250 calls and e-mails from across the country this year. That’s down from more than 1,200 in 2004. In addition, Magnuson says the DOJ received 100 calls from district election officers stationed around the country. Magnuson says all complaints will be reviewed by the FBI. She describes the complaints so far, however, as “fairly routine.” — Jason McLure
BACK-SEAT POLITICS (Posted 3:05 p.m.) Politically savvy Washingtonians weren’t the only ones making election-night predictions and partaking in early festivities yesterday. D.C. taxi driver John Keith spent the evening picking up election-night partygoers, who withstood chilly weather and light rain, and dropping them off at bars and other vote-watching events. Keith, who had gotten used to listening to back-seat political prognosticators about the potential rise of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to speaker of the House, the heated race between Virginia Senate candidates Sen. George Allen (R) and Jim Webb (D), and the potential fall of Republican control of Congress all evening long, found himself making several trips from places like Union Station to spots such as the Capitol City Brewery and Drinx. He spilled his two cents about how the Democrats would take over Congress whenever he got the chance. “It’s been a long night,” Keith says, running his hands through his shoulder-length braids, adding that he voted for his Democratic favorites at 9 a.m. and wasn’t dismayed by his Republican-leaning taxi guests. “I see a lot of people going to these election parties tonight talking about the Democrats and the Republicans,” he says. “I wonder if they are thinking about the Iraq war and the new civil war we now have. The night’s not over yet, but I got up this morning knowing the Democrats will win,” he adds, before taking his fare and driving off into the rainy night. — Osita Iroegbu
CARD SWAPPING (Posted 1:56 p.m.) Not every Capitol Hill staffer was taking a vacation day Tuesday to hand out fliers or make unsolicited phone calls. Nicole Isaac, 27, a lawyer on the staff of Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and an organizer of the Washington Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, co-hosted a subdued election-night party at Drinx in Penn Quarter. Unlike some heavily Democratic parties in town, there was no raucous cheering and no drunken dancing (at least while Legal Times was at the party). Instead there was a heavy dose of business-card swapping. “Networking,” said Tracey Austin of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “It’s inevitable.” Austin was at Drinx spreading the word about MomentumUSA, a group she helps run on the side that hosts policy discussions and social events for minority professionals. In Washington, of course, networking and political fund-raising often overlap. Brian Taylor, a former aide to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), was at Drinx touting his new political action committee, Penny PAC — an organization whose Web site touts its decidedly vague mission of backing candidates “whose ideas on the issues of education, energy, health care, homeland security, and economic development are fresh, innovative, and forward thinking.” — Jason McLure
Tracey Austin of Momentum USA, Nicole Isaac of the Washington Bar Association, and Ian Campbell of Momentum USA at an election night fete cohosted by their organizations at Drinx, a bar in Penn Quarter. (Photo by Tessa Milofsky)

WHAT, NO PARTY? (Posted 1:54 p.m.) Save for a few celebrations, the mood on Capitol Hill was surprisingly subdued Tuesday night, largely due to the rainy weather. Though the Capitol Grille was packed with Washington pols and had a 45-minute wait for a table, the atmosphere a few blocks down the road at the legendary Caucus Room, co-owned by Democratic lobbyist Tommy Boggs of Patton Boggs and former Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist-turned-Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), was surprisingly dead. Televisions broadcast the election coverage in both the dining room and bar; both were spartan and borderline depressing. A few patrons huddled around the bar watching the smoke from their cigars rise, while a few issued random comments: “That’s one minority elected,” said one patron after CNN declared Robert Menendez (D) the winner of the New Jersey Senate race. — Joe Crea
SO LONG, SANTORUM (Posted 1:52 p.m.) Closer to the Hill, there was plenty of whooping and shouting at Human Rights’ Campaign’s overflowing fete in the vaulted hall of the Capitol City Brewery on election night. Quite the contrast to the mood just two years ago, when the same gay rights lobby congregated in the exact location to, they hoped, celebrate the election of its endorsed presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). But by far the loudest cheers were saved for each time MSNBC flashed the vote totals in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race, where Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum was soundly beaten by Democrat Bob Casey Jr., the state treasurer. Santorum’s outspoken opposition to rights for same-sex couples had made him a lightning rod for gay groups, which poured more than $300,000 into Casey’s war chest. Even before it became apparent that the Democrats would take control of the House of Representatives and potentially the Senate, Santorum’s defeat had hundreds of partyers in a festive mood. “No matter what happens tonight, getting rid of Rick Santorum was most important,” said Chris Speron, an HRC staffer. While hundreds of celebrants swilled cocktails and nibbled nachos out front, HRC had set up an election-night war room in a small room behind the bathrooms. There, more than a half-dozen staffers with laptops and high-speed Internet connections were furiously refreshing CNN’s election results Web site. The bellwether House race for HRC lobbyist David Smith: Republican Rep. Anne Northup’s effort to hold on to her seat in Kentucky’s 3rd District, which includes Louisville. By 8:30 p.m., Northup’s Democratic challenger John Yarmuth had pulled ahead, putting Smith in a festive mood he said would lay to rest the demons of election-night disappointment in 2004. “In 2004, at 7:30 it was very clear it wasn’t going to happen for us,” he said. This time, it did. Others in attendance included officials and lobbyists with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; the National Black Justice Coalition, a gay African-American lobby; and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which helps fund and elect openly gay candidates for public office. — Jason McLure & Joe Crea
Human Rights Campaign members Charles Speron, David Smith and Susanne Salkind discuss election night results in HRC’s election night war room at the Capitol City Brewery. (Photo by Tessa Milofsky)

AREA LAWYERS SET UP VOTER PROTECTION HOTLINE (Posted 3:50 p.m.) Lawyers from firms across town have gathered to staff a voter protection hotline, taking complaints and questions from voters at the polls in more than eight states. The hotline, 1-866-OUR VOTE, created as a response to the problems with the 2000 presidential election in Florida, has been up and running for this election season since Oct. 16. The hotline is one of the key components of the Election Protection Coalition’s monitoring efforts. The coalition, formed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the People for the American Way Foundation, and the NAACP, has also sent teams of lawyers to act as poll monitors across the country. Scores of lawyers are taking questions today from voters in the District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Illinois, Delaware, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and parts of Pennsylvania at the Lawyers’ Committee’s New York Avenue headquarters and the nearby office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which is hosting a call center for the coalition. In New York, Kirkland & Ellis, Proskauer Rose, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have set up call centers for the coalition. — Alexia Garamfalvi
PROBLEMS WITH PENNSYLVANIAN VOTING MACHINES (Posted 3:34 p.m.) Pennsylvania Republicans say they are facing problems with the state’s new electronic voting machines. When voters go to vote for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the vote mysteriously flips to challenger Bob Casey, alleges Heather Heidelbaugh, a partner at Pennsylvania-based Babst, Calland, Clements, and Zomnir whose client is the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania. “We were relying on the governor who said that his election division had verified the quality of all of these machines,” says Heidelbaugh. “What we’re trying to recommend on a county-by-county basis is to tell the election boards that those machines ought to be taken out of service.” So far, the Republican State Committee says at least 12 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania are affected. Campaigns aren’t leaving the election up to chance. Both Republicans and Democrats have legal war rooms set up in close races answering calls and preparing legal briefs as issues come up. In the heated open seat race in Tennessee between Republican Bob Corker and Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., Ford called on his high school friend, Charles Johnson IV, now at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, who has been helping organize Ford’s legal boiler room since October. Despite having two legal teams of at least 20 in Memphis and Nashville ready to spring into action, the morning calls were basic fare about to which polling places people should go. But Johnson says his team is ready with a “panoply of filings” — standing by in case an injunction or ballot recount is needed. There also are attorneys standing by in key precincts like Shelby County. “This is probably the most comprehensive voter protection the state has ever seen on the Democratic Party side,” says Johnson. — Anna Palmer
CNN BROADCASTS ELECTION BLOGGERS (Posted 3:21 p.m.) Blogging has its first reality-television show. CNN today is holding a not-quite-impromptu gathering of bloggers at Tryst, a coffeehouse in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Northwest Washington, for an orgy of macchiato and political repartee. The blogathon includes “25 of the most influential political bloggers” from around the country. To accommodate the network, owner Constantine Stavropoulos says the restaurant will not be open to the public. To accommodate customers, Stavropoulos has arranged for limo service from Tryst to his other coffee shop, Open City, located a few blocks west in Woodley Park. Stavropoulos says CNN will periodically check in throughout the night with its cadre of moonbats and wingnuts for political analysis — which just shows that CNN is following that old adage: If you can’t beat �em, then throw �em in a coffee hut, shower �em with caffeine, and make �em a licensed product. — Nathan Carlile
FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR-TURNED-DLA PIPER LOBBYIST CAMPAIGNS FOR INCUMBENT (Posted 3:03 p.m.) After campaigning on old stomping grounds last week for Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), congressman-turned-Michigan governor-turned-Washington lobbyist James Blanchard and lobbying firm DLA Piper continue today to stump for the incumbent. Today, from the campaign trail in Michigan, Blanchard says the only thing he’s worried about is the weather. “It’s pouring rain here in Detroit,” Blanchard says from his cell phone. “Otherwise, I think it’s going to be a good Democratic year.” Blanchard, who now heads DLA Piper’s government affairs practice group, says the bipartisan firm has made contributions to Granholm’s campaign as well as those of other Democratic and Republican candidates. Blanchard made it clear that the firm doesn’t support opposing candidates. “We don’t work against each other,” Blanchard said from his cell phone earlier today as he prepared to board the campaign bus that had rolled through Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. In Detroit, Blanchard has been visiting polling stations and thanking voters for their support, he says. “I served as governor here, so I still have an interest in Michigan politics,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the evening.” The latest poll by the Detroit Free Press shows Granholm holding a seven-point lead over Republican challenger Richard DeVos. “She is trying to improve health care and help people cope with being laid off in the auto industry,” Blanchard says, offering up reasons why he thinks Granholm will be victorious at the end of the night. And speaking of victories, you can catch folks preparing to celebrate election night (or not) in Maryland. Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele and his supporters will be celebrating at the Comfort Inn at 4500 Crain Highway in Bowie, Md. Democratic contender Benjamin Cardin and his folks can be found at the American Visionary Art Museum at 800 Key Highway in Baltimore. — Osita Iroegbu
LOBBYISTS DRESS DOWN TO STUMP FOR CANDIDATES (Posted 1:56 p.m.) No Armani suits or cigars today for Republican and Democratic lobbyists who are out in force across the country battling for control of Congress. Jeans and winter parkas are the outfits of choice in New York as Republican Reps. Tom Reynolds and Jim Walsh are fighting for their political future. Both veteran Republicans, more used to coasting to easy victories, are in tight races. Reynolds has struggled since his role in the page scandal that forced Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) to resign came to light. Nine-term congressman Walsh is being challenged by Democrat Dan Maffei, a former congressional staffer, who has edged closer in the suddenly tough environment for Republicans. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld lobbyists John Simmons and Bert Steele III made a human billboard along with other campaign volunteers during rush hour this morning while they politicked for Walsh; they expect to make get-out-the-vote phone calls later today. “You usually don’t need this level of effort,” says Simmons. “But it could be tight. It’s all hands on deck.” Simmons, now a defense lobbyist, has worked with Walsh since his days as Walsh’s primary adviser on appropriations. Akin Gump’s political action committee also has shown its support for Walsh and Reynolds, donating $1,000 and $1,500 to their respective campaigns. — Anna Palmer
DOJ OUT TO PROTECT VOTERS’ RIGHTS (Posted 1:45 p.m.) The Justice Department has sent a record number of monitors to observe voting around the country today as part of an effort to protect voting-related civil rights. According to a DOJ press release, more than 850 federal personnel are in 69 counties in 22 states, more than double the total during the last midterm election in 2002. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Justice Department has regularly sent personnel to monitor polling places. Though that law was passed in response to Jim Crow-era barriers to blacks voting in the states of the old Confederacy, more recently it has been used as a tool for protecting the voting rights of immigrants and non-English-speaking citizens. Polling places will be monitored in a number of the country’s biggest cities, including Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Cleveland, and New Orleans. Voting will also be monitored in a number of rural areas with relatively high populations of Native Americans, including Navajo County, Ariz., and Buffalo County, S.D. There will, however, be no observers sent to the three states with perhaps the most hotly contested races for U.S. Senate: Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri. Federal enforcement of the nation’s voting rights laws is handled by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. That division has been criticized during the Bush administration by civil rights groups and some of its former lawyers for failing to be active enough in protecting voter rights ( see “The Fight Within,” Sept. 15, 2003). The Civil Rights Division is currently headed by Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim, a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Kim, a naturalized citizen born in Seoul, South Korea, is the first immigrant to head the division.One former chief of the Civil Rights Division will be observing Election Day from a new perspective today. Democrat Deval Patrick, who headed the division from 1994 to 1997, is considered the favorite to win Massachusetts’ gubernatorial election today over Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. — Jason McLure

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