Feverish early-vote effort turns to Election Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ever urgent as the clock runs down, Barack Obama's and Mitt Romney's teams have been pressing voters to get to the polls while thousands who are already there have waited in long lines for their final chance to avoid the Election Day crush.

In Columbus, Ohio, more than 1,000 murmuring voters were winding through a maze in a former department store on the city's west side.

In Cleveland, the atmosphere was festive. Music was blaring across the street from the county elections board office. Hot dog vendors, campaign button sellers, even the Rev. Jesse Jackson sought to woo the crowd.

Those are just two of the many scenes being played out across the country during the final acts of the 2012 presidential campaign.

States scramble to help displaced residents vote

One storm-battered New Jersey county is delivering ballots to emergency shelters while New York City is lining up shuttle buses to ferry people in hard-hit coastal areas to the polls.

With the presidential election looming just a week after Superstorm Sandy's devastation, authorities are scrambling to make voting as manageable as possible while election watchers warn that any shortcuts could compromise the integrity of the balloting.

Election officials in both New Jersey and New York are guardedly optimistic that power will be restored and most polling places will be open in all but the worst-hit areas for Tuesday's election. Both states are allowing displaced residents to cast a provisional ballot for president and statewide office holders in any polling place.

Poll challenges, phony instructions could mar vote

Voting rights advocates say persistent reports of robocalls incorrectly telling voters they can cast ballots over the phone and fears of aggressive challenges by monitors at polling places threaten to mar Election Day in many key states.

Advocates say the fake phone calls continued to crop up in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, primarily among African-American voters. Voting rights groups are making calls reminding voters they can't cast ballots over the phone.

The last-minute telephone tactics are only the latest in months of legal and political battles over more restrictive voter ID and other laws.

Many of these issues could resurface in the courts after Tuesday, particularly if the presidential race is too close to call or heads for a recount in states such as Ohio or Florida.

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