Ah, Election Day is finally here. StarTribune.com will keep you up to date on what's happening locally and nationally. But here are some other useful websites to visit before you head out the door to vote and throughout the day to see what's happening on the political scene.
Make up your mind
Up to 10 percent of voters had not decided who will get their vote for president in the week leading up to today's election, according to various polls. If you're among the undecided, it's time to enter the Glass Booth (www.glassbooth.org). The site first presents 18 issues -- such as immigration, education and health care -- and asks you to assign points (20 are available) to the ones that matter most to you. Then it's on to the quiz, which asks whether you support or oppose 20 hot topics such as tax cuts for middle-class families and higher U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. Your answers are evaluated on a weighted scale that factors in your stance on the issues from the first step, and then the site shows which candidate is most aligned with your views, by percentage. The results might surprise you.
It's all on the map
Yahoo News says 25 percent of its traffic has been generated by politics and the election. One reason might be its nifty Election 08 Political Dashboard (news.yahoo.com/election/2008/dashboard). The interactive map reflects the latest poll data to project which candidate has gained the most electoral votes by state. But users also can toggle the interface to show projections by political commentators such as Arianna Huffington and Newt Gingrich, or come up with their own projections.
Time to get serious
If you're a news hound who wants nothing but serious analyses of national politics by real journalists, Politico (www.politico.com) is worth investigating. A recent article, for example, explored the reality that the loser in the presidential election will be getting a one-way ticket back to the Senate and pondered what his next steps there would be. There also are useful features such as a Swing State Map that tracks the candidates' prospects in undecided areas and a video roundup of political stories on the morning news shows. Real Clear Politics (www.realclearpolitics.com), a contributor to Yahoo's Political Dashboard, also is a leading source of independent political coverage online.
Don't forget your camera
When you head to the polls today, don't just mark your ballot; bring your video camera and shoot some footage, too. That's the message from Video the Vote (www.videothevote.org), a national collaborative concerned with monitoring the electoral process to protect voters' rights. Here are the steps: Register at the site, document local election activity (a guide explains how) and then upload your video. The site posts the clip on YouTube and makes a high-res version available to media partners to use in their election coverage. For more about voter rights, check out Election Protection (www.866ourvote.org).
Here's something different
Many people will be glued to their TV sets tonight, watching the returns, an Election Day tradition. For something hipper, there's Current Diggs the Election (www.current.com/election), a hybrid program presented by Current TV and the Internet dynamos Digg and Twitter. Current says it is "uniting the best of social media with a real-time broadcast of the most important results, facts and information and giving you a completely new way to experience election night. No pundits, just perspective." And how many other election shows will feature a live DJ set? Check your cable or satellite provider for the broadcast version of Current TV.
Put yourself in charge
After the lengthy campaigns, it seemed as if Election Day would never arrive. Now that it's here, you might be thinking, "Hey, I could probably run the country at this point." The online testing company Brainbench (www.startribune.com/a/?4593) makes finding out whether you could with a cool diversion: its Presidential Potential Fun Quiz. Once you enter your e-mail address, you're tested on your political, international and historical knowledge and then quizzed on presidential personality traits. It took me less than 3 minutes, after which I found that I scored higher than 94 percent of the previous examinees. That's not bad, but I definitely need to organize a better campaign next time.
Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542