Campaigns Across The U.S.: Wash. Votes Already In

Three-term incumbent Sen. Patty Murray, one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the Senate, is in a tight race in Washington state with Republican challenger Dino Rossi. Many people have already cast their votes — in all but one county, voters received ballots in the mail a few weeks ago.

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AMELIA TEMPLETON: I'm Amelia Templeton in Vancouver, Washington. Three-term incumbent Patty Murray from Washington State is one of the highest ranking Democrats in the Senate. Polls show she's in a tight race with Republican challenger and real estate investor Dino Rossi. Many people in Washington have already cast their votes. In all but one Washington county, voters received their ballots in the mail a few weeks ago.

Crowd: (Chanting) Patty. Patty. Patty. Patty.

TEMPLETON: Murray stopped by a rally at the Longshoreman's Union Hall in Vancouver this weekend. She had a question for her supporters.

Senator PATTY MURRAY (Democrat, Washington): Every vote is going to count. So let me ask you, is there anybody here who has not turned a ballot in? OK. We've got a couple of people with an assignment. But we have a...

TEMPLETON: Canvassers are keeping careful track of who's voted already. Brianna Antel(ph) is knocking on doors in a fast growing Vancouver suburb a few miles north of the Columbia River.

Ms. MEGAN STRAND: Hi.

Ms. BRIANNA ANTEL: Hi. My name's Brianna. I'm with the Washington state Democrats. I just wanted to know if you might be able to tell me how you're planning on voting in this upcoming election.

Ms. STRAND: Like specifically?

Ms. ANTEL: Democratic or Republican.

Ms. STRAND: I typically vote Democrat, but depending on the candidate, I may change my mind.

TEMPLETON: That's voter Megan Strand.

Ms. ANTEL: Have you already sent your ballot in?

Ms. STRAND: I've not sent it in. I'm half done.

TEMPLETON: Strand is struggling to make a decision in the Senate race. Murray has secured a lot of earmarks for Washington State. Strand doesn't know what she thinks of that.

Ms. STRAND: I know that Patty Murray's done a lot for this state in terms of directing, really, designated dollars to special interests within Washington. Is that something that is a good thing for the rest of the country as well as our own state, you know, and is she the right person?

(Soundbite of train whistle)

TEMPLETON: Back outside the Longshoremen's Hall, Murray supporter Robin White says those earmarks have helped the Port of Vancouver save jobs.

Mr. ROBIN WHITE: If they bring jobs, if it helps the economy, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. If it's frivolous use of money I would say yes. But in this case, I guess, if those are earmarks, those are good.

TEMPLETON: The race between Murray and Rossi is one of a handful that will determine if the Republicans take control of the Senate. But the result could be uncertain for several days while the state tallies votes. Ballots are valid as long as they're postmarked by Election Day.

For NPR News, I'm Amelia Templeton in Vancouver, Washington.

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