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Race to make Americans vote

Washington, Nov. 6 (AP): With tomorrow’s US national election dominated by discontent and division over the Iraq War, Republicans and Democrats sent thousands of volunteers to states with the most contested Congressional races to work phone banks and canvass neighbourhoods to turn out voters.

President George W. Bush today urged Republicans in the south, which has been strongly Republican in recent years, to get out and vote.

Republicans repeated their assertion that Democrats would raise taxes and prematurely pull out of Iraq if they controlled Congress.

Democrats pressed their case for change, arguing that Republicans in Congress blindly have followed Bush’s “failed policy”.

Republicans and Democrats sparred over the Iraq war again yesterday following Saddam’s conviction on crimes against humanity.

White House spokesman Tony Snow decried as “absolutely crazy” any notion that Saddam’s death sentence was timed to produce positive news on the divisive, unpopular war two days before the polls.

The US has always denied direct involvement in the Iraqi trial, though suspicions persisted.

“To pull out, to withdraw from this war is losing. The Democrats appear to be content with losing,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole, who leads the Senate Republican campaign efforts.

Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the Democrat in charge of the party’s House campaign, shot back: “We want to win and we want a new direction to Iraq.”

The greatest obstacle for both is the historical tendency for voter turnout to be mediocre in off-year elections. For those who do vote, both parties have put together legal teams for possible challenges.

Polls showed a mixed picture of the electorate. A CNN poll released today said 58 per cent of likely voters would cast their ballots for Democrats running for Congress and 38 per cent for Republicans.

At stake are 435 House seats, 33 seats in the 100-member Senate, governorships in 36 of the 50 states, and thousands of state legislative and local races.

In 36 states, voters also will determine the fate of referendums, including whether to ban gay marriage, raise the minimum wage, endorse expanded embryonic stem cell research and — in South Dakota — impose the country’s most stringent abortion laws.

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