Blue or red? Political choice is everything in DC, even at stores

By Edith Leung

In the run-up to election day, people can not only vote early at the polls, they can also vote with their wallets at restaurants and other stores.

The lime burrito (left) represents Obama, and the queso burrito is for Romney.

At Columbia Heights in Washington D.C., the restaurant Lime Fresh Mexican Grill offers two flavors of burritos, queso flavor for Mitt Romney and lime flavor for Barack Obama. One of the workers, Sarah Issa, said that the queso burrito is more popular than the lime burrito. So does that mean Lime Fresh’s customers are mostly Republican?

“Though the queso is more popular, people here are usually Democrats. It is just an advertising strategy,” said Issa.

A 24-year old American banker, Michael Walker, also said that he purchased his burrito for its flavor, not for its political gimmick. “I am still undecided between the two candidates,” said Walker.

Beyond taste, the shop also raised funds for the two parties, and customers’ political leanings were more obvious: the Republican piggy bank was empty.

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Ben’s Chili Bowl: Where hot dogs and politics come together

By Edith Leung

Nothing says “America” like a hot dog, and that’s more true at Ben’s Chili Bowl than anywhere else.  The Washington establishment, which has 54 years of history, is as famous for its American politics and celebrities as it is for its hot dogs.

The restaurant, at 1213 U Street, is well-known for its chili dogs, half-smokes and milkshakes. It has been an integral part of the neighborhood since its founding in 1958. The restaurant is in a historically African-American neighborhood, a stone’s throw away from Howard University. Inside, the walls are covered with photos of celebrities including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and comedian Bill Cosby (who took his future wife to Ben’s when they  were dating).

President Obama has also visited the restaurant, which is known to attract Obama supporters.

So how did this eatery become such a popular hangout for political buffs?

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Early voting plays a more important role for citizens and campaigns

By Karen Chan

More early votes are expected in this election as more people take advantage of the practice and campaigners talk it up.

Voters line up outside Judiciary Square in Washington to cast their ballots early.

Early voting, which was first offered in 1992, allows people in 32 states and Washington DC to cast their ballots by November 4. Election day is November 6 this year. The practice has become more popular in the last decade. The percentage of votes that come in early increased from 7% in 1992 to 30% in 2008, according to the latest statistics.

“Early voting is more and more important because an increasing number of states is allowing people to vote earlier. It is estimated that one third of voters cast their ballots before election day,” says William Galston, a former policy advisor to former president Bill Clinton.

Recently, the Republican Party urged members of the military to vote in advance, but Galston said the call to vote early would not matter much.

“Military people who have a sense of duty will vote anyway, the only question is when,” Galston said.

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Kids cast their vote for US president

By Phoebe Chau

The first Kids Election voting event is held at Madame Tussauds in Washington D.C.

Under the US Constitution, only US citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote — but at a special election event at Madame Tussauds in Washington, hundreds of kids rushed to cast their ballots for their favorite presidential candidate three days before their parents even.

The event was held for the first time by the wax museum, whose general manager, Dan Rogoski, believes the mock election would get young voters to learn more about each candidate and the process of voting.

“We think it’s a unique event that no one has done before, and it’s a great opportunity for kids to come out and get involved in the election process,” said Rogoski. “We have an authentic voting machine here. Kids can step up, and they will vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.”

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Portrait of a young campaigner

By Karen Chan and Wendy Chan

What is the image that comes to mind when you think of young political campaigners. Willful, impatient or quick to come to a decision? Or a combination of all of the above?

David Elizondo, 23, says he was not hasty when he got involved in politics.

David Elizondo’s iPhone case shows his support for Obama.

“I made my own decision by observing and learning,” said Elizondo, who started to volunteer for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in late October in Washington D.C.

He said he had been following the debates and the media coverage and decided to campaign for the Democrat. “In fact, my parents are Republicans,” he added.

This is his first time voting. Four years ago Elizondo did not vote because he felt like he wasn’t familiar with what was going on that time.

This is also the first time that the native Texan (he moved to D.C. recently) volunteered for the Obama campaign. So what will he be doing?

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Media fight for top election coverage: National Journal, Washington Post, NPR

By Phoebe Chau

With the US presidential election approaching, the news industry is feeling the heat as media outlets try to outcompete one another in election coverage and attracting the biggest audiences.

The National Journal, The Washington Post and National Public Radio are long-established media organizations in America that have tried out new ways of telling one of the biggest election stories of our time.

Jody Brannon said graphics and charts are more attractive to today’s audiences because they don’t want to read long news articles.

National Journal
Jody Brannon, Editor

1. What will you cover in the presidential election?

I am looking at how diversity in America is changing policies and politics. As an election challenge, we are now trying to build charts and maps, looking exclusively at people of color who are running for Congress. We are trying to make some historical maps from 10 years ago, how many Hispanics, Asians, Indian Americans, Native Americans, Blacks, and then mix-raced people are running for office. That’s going to show us over time how our nation is becoming much more a melting pot, balancing minority and majority.

2. Will you make any special arrangements for National Journal‘s coverage?

I have only worked in the Internet age for big companies, where we had access to the Associated Press for election results, and we figured out ways to … get the data. That’s a lot of money. So instead of buying access of Associated Press data, we are going to be watching other people post the data, and then bring parts of it to our website.

3. How do you see Facebook as a social media tool for reporting?

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