Let It Be Over

Ohio is, again, crucial to an election. And that's not good.

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Their idea of a perfect romantic weekend was going door-to-door for Obama.

Even though I live in Ohio, I don't have a clue which Democrat will win the state's presidential primary today. At this point, I almost don't care. I just want it to be over.

The newspaper where I work reported over the weekend that it's "neck and neck." It said Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York leads Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois by a 47 percent to 43 percent. That measly four-point advantage matches the poll's margin of error, making the race a dead-heat.

But don't tell that to Clinton or Obama. Every other commercial on television has one or the other of their faces on it, promising nearly the same things. Ohioans hate NAFTA, so Clinton and Obama say they hate it, too. Both claim to be against the war in Iraq and both promise to end it as the first order of business in their respective administrations.

Truth be told, there seems to be only a hair's breadth of difference between the two of them on the issues. But who's paying attention to issues when there's race and gender on the table to set them apart? One of them will make history as the Democratic nominee: will it be the black man or white woman?

Ohio could make the decision clear. So the candidates have set up temporary residence here, popping up in churches, coffee shops and college campuses across the state. It's their last-ditch effort to persuade undecided voters to cast a ballot their way.

But they're not going willy-nilly to any old campaign stop. The bottom line in Ohio isn't really who gets the most votes in the state. No, the candidates are after delegates.

So Obama and Clinton are going to places rich in delegates, which are apportioned by congressional districts. In Cuyahoga County, where I live, the 11th District has eight delegates at stake, the highest number in the state.

Regardless of who wins, I want this primary season to end, especially the part of it playing out in Ohio. Once again, as in 2000 and 2004, the Buckeye State is a major player in presidential politics. And this isn't a good thing.

See, Ohio is developing a reputation as the state that can't hold an election. Whether it's malfunctioning voting machines or incompetent elections officials or just senile old folks who are the only available precinct workers, this state can't get the voting-thing down pat.

Those of us who live here are tired of being the butt of Election Day jokes. (Thousands of Iraqis couldn't vote today because they ran out of ballots, forcing the president to declare a state of Ohio. Baaa da boom!)

Given the state's history of haphazard voting, out-of-towners like Sam Clark have flooded our streets just like the candidates.

I met Clark outside the Obama headquarters. He's a 53-year-old paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department. He came to Cleveland to spend the weekend before Election Day with his sweetie, Cynthia Spencer, a local high school teacher.

So how did these commuting lovebirds spend their time together?

"We walked the streets and canvassed for Obama," Clark said. "Ohio is the toughest state for him, and I felt he needed me to come down and volunteer for him."

His lady friend, Ms. Spencer, beamed with approval. "This was a perfect weekend," she said.

How romantic. If you ask me the perfect weekend will be next weekend – when the election will be over and life can get back to whatever we here in Ohio call normal.

Sam Fulwood III is a regular contributor to The Root.

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