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Five things to look for on election night

Voting is now underway across the country, so here are 5 things to look for as you watch the results come in:

1. Ohio

If you have been paying any attention to the news coverage the last few weeks, you probably think that the United States is only composed of one state: Ohio. Because of the way the electoral college works, all focus has been on the swing state of Ohio, and many people are saying Romney has no chance of winning the race if he does not win this state, which Obama won in 2008. This result is probably the most highly-anticipated one of the night for the presidential election.

(Why five states may decide the presidential election)

2. Will Sandy affect the results?

After superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast last week and devastated New York and New Jersey, concerns were brought up about how the election would be affected. With millions of people without power, public transportation still not fully restored, worry about mail-in ballots getting in on time, and polling centers affected, it is possible the storm could affect voter turnout, although the states affected most by the storm are expected to be safely won by Obama.

(Sandy to affect the presidential race)

3. Possible legal challenges

The 2000 election came down to a legal challenge, and with this election expected to be close, it is possible that close results could result in legal challenges and delay results. With all of the absentee ballots, new voting technology (some states are starting online voting), logistical challenges due to Sandy, and challenges to voter ID laws, we could be in for a legal battle to decide the real winner.

(Opinion: Are voter ID laws a return to Jim Crow?)

(Opinion: Online voting is dangerous and undemocratic)

4. Controversial ballot measures in some states

Don't forget that the country is casting votes for much more than just the president. Everything from gay marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, federal funding for abortion, medical marijuana, and even full-on legalization of marijuana are being decided in some states. Massachusetts will vote on medical marijuana and physician-assisted suicide (Death with Dignity).

(The evolution of human rights)

5. Important Senate races

Although the presidential race is getting most of the attention, there are several important Senate races that also deserve attention. The results of this election has the potential to change the control of Congress. In particular, the Massachusetts Senate race between Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren is a hotly-contested race that is the most expensive Senate race this year. Brown is a moderate who surprisingly won Ted Kennedy's old seat in 2010, and Warren is a liberal icon who has shown a slight lead in the polls. Other races to watch for include: Virginia, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana.

(Opinion: Top 10 worst candidates running for Congress)

Photo courtesy of VOA/Wikimedia Commons.


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Meghan is a member of the class of 2013 from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. She is a Political Science major and Faith Peace and Justice minor. She joined the Gavel her sophomore year and has been an editorial assistant, News Editor, and Managing Editor. She spent her junior spring semester studying abroad in Granada, Spain. She enjoys writing political stories and covering campus events for the Gavel.