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Proud To Be a Virginian

As someone who’s lived almost my entire life in Virginia, this election means a great deal to me, as it does to most voters in the state.

For the first time since 1964, Virginia is in play in a presidential election. Many residents are surprised to see Virginia shaded blue on some electoral maps. The state will indeed make history if it favors Sen. Barack Obama. But in my mind, Virginia is already making history.

Polls show Obama leading, on average, by about 4.4 percent. This is monumental because the first African-American presidential candidate might take the state and because, more important, he’s so close to actually pulling it off.

Slavery, segregation and racial hatred clouds Virginia’s past. In some parts of the state, racial hatred is still alive — a reality we’ve been forced to face this election season. But another reality has also surfaced: Virginians have looked beyond skin color to learn about the candidates and what they stand for. In doing so, they’ve become so energized about the issues that they are turning out in record numbers to vote.

White that’s exciting, it’s also worrisome. High turnout and wet weather have caused problems at polling places throughout the state.

Twenty-five percent of Virginia’s polling places use optical scanning machines. There are reports that some are acting up because paper ballots were wet and the machines couldn’t read them. There have been voting-machine malfunctions in Louisa, Petersburg and Chesterfield counties, as well as elsewhere. In Richmond and Virginia Beach, precincts opened late. Long lines in Richmond and its suburbs have reportedly created some voting problems.

Hopefully, most of these problems will get sorted out, and all registered Virginians who haven’t already voted will make it to the polls by 7 p.m. Any voters encountering problems can report them to the CNN Voter Hotline at 1-877-462-6608.

No matter the outcome, this election is groundbreaking for Virginia. My state may still have a long way to go — but it’s on the right track.

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