Q&As -- Absentee ballots; Joe L.; Tonight

I got a few questions in by email that I'll respond to here -- and hey, you can all feel free to keep asking me anything even though it's technically not "ask me anything day."

"Alissa" asks:

1. What happens if someone submits an absentee ballot (or votes early) then dies?  Is the vote still counted? 

2. What time will it all be over tonight?

The first question has come to the fore lately because of the death of Barack Obama's grandmother, who reportedly had sent in her absentee ballot. The answer is that in her home state of Hawaii, as in most states, the ballot will count. Some states by law disallow such votes, but have no mechanism to catch them. There are a few states -- South Dakota is one; it came up in the primaries this year -- where the state actually uses death data to update the voter registration rolls prior to opening, and counting, the absentee ballots on election day.

As for number two, it depends what you mean by "all over." I would predict that we will essentially know that Obama has won by 9:00 at the latest, and quite likely just after 8:00. But bear in mind that four probably Obama states, worth 77 electoral votes, are still voting until 11:00 ET, so networks won't call those states until after that time, making it tough for them to officially call the race. They almost certainly won't be able to call it until after New York closes at 9:00 -- and if the election is close, you've got important toss-up states closing at 9:00 (NM, Col, Minn, Wis) and 10:00 (Nevada, Iowa) that could take a while to call. Also, those interested in the congressional balance of power will have a lot to stay up for, including Senate races in Oregon and Alaska, as well as a governor's race in Washington.

"KLM" asks:

Are the democrats going to kick Joe Lieberman out of their caucus?

I think they will certainly strip him of his chairmanship. My guess is that they will not actually kick him out, but they will also refuse to bargain to keep him. (Ie, by promising to not support a Democrat against him for re-election, etc.) The GOP will bargain with him, and my guess is he defects to them on his own.

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