Decision 2012 Voter Guides Poll Times Places To Vote Issues And Races To Watch

11.05.12 | Sarah Harnisch

What times are the polls open? Did I register to vote? Where do I go to vote? Who do I vote for? When does Family Life’s coverage begin? Which races should I watch? The Family Life news team has answers to all your questions.

Poll Times:
   6am to 9pm in New York
   7am to 8pm in Pennsylvania

Where Do I Vote? Where can I go to see if I've registered to vote?
    Go here for a map in New York.
    Go here for a map in Pennsylvania.

Who do I vote for?
    This is a voter guide, broken down by state, by district, and by issue, put together collaboratively by several major Christian groups across the country.

When Is Family Life's Coverage?
    Family Life's news team will have full, live coverage from a faith-based perspective starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Go here for a coverage map, or listen online. We will also have full coverage Wednesday morning, every 30 minutes, starting at 6 a.m.

Which states will most dramatically affect the election?
   There are 10 states that could swing the election:
   Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.
    There are 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House. Rasmussen polling has Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tied with 49 percent of the vote each. An ABC/Washington Post poll has Obama with 49 percent, Romney with 48 percent. Gallup polling has both men tied at 48 percent.


Which races are close in New York and Pennsylvania?

New York:  
Long Island Attorney and Republican Challenger Wendy Long takes on Democratic Incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand in the first "all girls" senate election in New York history.  Long is a fiscal and social conservative and former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  Gillibrand is a former Congresswoman from the Hudson Valley who was tapped to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat in 2009 when she became Secretary of State.

New York's 24th district is one of the most competitive races in the country right now.  Incumbent Republican Ann Marie Buerkle is being challenged by Democrat Dan Maffei in a rematch of the 2010 election.  Maffei won the seat in a run-off in 2008.  He lost to Buerkle by less than 7 hundred votes.  Pundits have the race "too close to call."

In New York's 25th district, incumbent Democrat Louise Slaughter takes on Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks in another closely watched race.  Redistricting made the 25th more conservative and questions about the 82 year-old Slaughter's health is also aiding her Republican opponent.  Still, pundits have the 25th leaning Democratic.

One of the closest watched elections anywhere in the country is New York's 27th district.  Former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R) takes on incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul for the seat she won when Congressman Chris Lee resigned.  Hochul, a Democrat, scored the upset in a special election last year, by rising a wave of anger over Republican plans to cut Medicare.  The 27th is traditional G.O.P. turf. Pundits say the race is too close to call.

Just about all the congressional races favor the incumbant. The two races that are close are the race for the U.S. Senate and the race for Attorney General.

Republican Tom Smith faces an uphill battle against Democratic Incumbent Bob Casey Jr.  Polls show casey with a double-digit lead in the state his father used to govern.  Smith is running on a campaign of fiscal conservatism. He's made repeal of obama-care one of his top campaign agendas.  Smith is a veteran of the coal industry and is a fomer Tea Party leader.  Casey is running for a second term.  He is the former PA auditor general and state treasurer.  

In the race for attorney general, Democrat Kathleen Kane bills herself as “a prosecutor, not a politician,” while Republican David Freed contends that his seven years as Cumberland County’s elected attorney general better prepared him to be the state’s chief legal officer. If Kane wins, she would become the first Democrat and the first woman to be elected attorney general since the office became an elected position in 1980. In her first electoral bid, the Scranton resident defeated former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in the April primary. Freed, of Camp Hill, ran unopposed in the Republican primary after Gov. Tom Corbett endorsed him. Freed’s father-in-law was the state’s first elected attorney general.


Nationally, these are the issues the Family Life Newsroom is watching:


- In Maine, a ballot initiative would legalize same-sex marriage.  Maryland and Washington state have measures to determine if legalization bills passed by their respective state legislatures will stand.  In Minnesota, there is a measure to ban same-sex marriage.


- Six states have marijuana-related measures on the ballot.  Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state have measures to legalize recreational use.  Massachusetts, Montana and Arkansas have initiatives concerning the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.


- Voters in five states will consider healthcare measures.  Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming have measures to prohibit mandatory participation in President Obama's healthcare law.  North Dakota will ask voters if smoking should be prohibited in public places and workplaces.  A California measure would require labeling of genetically engineered foods and Massachusetts voters will decide on a measure which would permit terminally ill patients to receive a lethal injection.


- Two states have measures addressing abortion.  A Florida amendment would bar public funds from being used to pay for abortion or for health benefits which include abortion coverage.  That prohibition wouldn't apply in cases of rape, incest or where the mother's life is in danger.  In Montana, there's a measure which would require parental notification before a minor could get an abortion.  The initiative also provides for judicial waivers of notification.


- A number of states are voting on tax initiates of significance.  In California, one measure would increase the income tax on earnings above 250-thousand dollars for seven years and raise the sales tax by a quarter of a percent for four years.  Another measure in California would increase all income taxes and set aside 60 percent of that revenue for education.  In Arizona, one measure would make permanent an existing temporary sales tax while at the same time mandating annual increases in state education spending.  A South Dakota initiative would raise the state sales tax to fund education and health care and a Missouri measure would increase tobacco taxes by a dollar per pack with revenue going towards health education.  In New Hampshire, voters will decide on a measure which would prohibit new income taxes.


- Several states have ballot measures dealing with discrimination.  An Oklahoma measure would prohibit discrimination or preferences based on race, sex, ethnicity and national origin.  In Alabama, a measure would delete constitutional references to segregation of schools by race and repeal poll taxes.  Maryland voters will decide on a measure to repeal a law which permits illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities if they go to high schools in the state and if their parents paid taxes.  In Montana, a measure would deny services to illegal immigrants.


- Key labor issues are on the ballot in a couple of states.  A California measure would prohibit union dues from being used for political purposes without being authorized by union members.  Michigan voters will decide on a measure which would create a new constitutional right to collective bargaining.


- A pair of states have big changes for teachers and teacher unions on the ballot.  In Idaho, there are measures to limit collective bargaining, put in place performance-based pay and modify school district funding.  A South Dakota measure would create a program for teacher merit bonuses, mandate an evaluation system for teachers and principals and do away with requirements for teacher tenure.


- California has a measure on the ballot which would do away with capital punishment.  The measure would commute convicted criminals to life in prison without parole.  Recent polls are showing voters across California nearly divided on this issue.