Democrats, Republicans in last minute get out the vote effort

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Election Day has finally arrived and supporters on both sides of the aisle have gotten ready for what could be a long night ahead as the returns start coming in.

The long lines Tuesday morning and in the days leading up to Election Day had GOP leadership sounding the alarm.

A lot of Democrats have been voting and Republicans can't afford to stay home.

Katon Dawson's urgent message to Republicans: head to the polls "as soon as possible" and get in line by 7pm.

The chairman says he's confident South Carolina will remain a red state, but Dawson saying some races could be close.

"I'm certainly watching Senator Drummond's seat. He's a fine public servant and retired this year and we've got D. Compton, a very good county councilman in a traditionally Democratic district," Dawson said.

Dawson says he knows Democrats have gotten out the vote.

"Certainly they had a lot of early absentee voting and we see the records there and look at the counties where they're in so we see that they have used a good turnout model and so have we, with our mail-in absentee program," Dawson said.

Democrats have been working feverishly to get out of the vote this year in an attempt to turn the state blue.

There are 14 democratic campaign offices in Richland County alone. Everyone is inside doing all they can to get people outside to vote.

"There are so many volunteers who care about how this turns out," Carol Fowler, chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party said.

Some care so much, they were at the Columbia Democratic Party headquarters at 5am. Many others will be there through the night.

"In the end it's going to be worth it," Fowler said.

Volunteers are calling voters reminding them to go to the polls and hoping they vote Obama for President. Others at the campaign headquarters are tracking voters.

Both Mary Robinson and Brenda Palmer spent their day volunteering for Columbia's Democratic Party.

One woman was inside on the phone and the other was walking the streets hoping to get more support for Barack Obama.

"I think, he's the person that can take this nation to a new place," Robinson said.

Palmer's reason is a little more personal.

"If my husband was here, this would be what he would want to be doing," Palmer said.

Palmer's husband died in August at 66 years old. For the first time in his life, he was planning to vote for a Democratic candidate.

"He was so excited about a change and he was so excited about Barack Obama," Palmer said.

Now the retired grandmother volunteers, knowing her husband is with her in spirit. She has a special plan if Election Day goes in her favor.

"I will sit out at the cemetery and have my own celebration and I will say 'We done it honey, we made a difference,'" Palmer said.

"We know where in South Carolina turnout is heavy and where it's lighter and maybe we need to concentrate our telephone calls in an area where it's light," Fowler said.

Fowler has worked with the Democratic Party over 30 years and she's never seen a turnout of volunteers like this.

"It's something exciting to my generation because we think we have the potential to elect the first African-American president," Fowler said.

As Fowler watches the election results come in, she'll be counting on a change.

"I hope tonight brings a lot of blue spots on maps. I hope that we see a lot of victories in South Carolina and around the country," Fowler said.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie and Brandi Cummings

Posted by Jeremy Turnage