Romney, Obama campaigners beg: Vote early

Dave Betras (left)and Scott Jennings (right) have been working nonstop for the Obama and Romney campaigns respectively to get the vote out.
Dave Betras (left)and Scott Jennings (right) have been working nonstop for the Obama and Romney campaigns respectively to get the vote out.
CBS News

(CBS News) The president is among an estimated 7.2 million people who have already voted.

More than half of those early voters are in seven of the states that can swing either way.

Already 813,000 votes have been cast in Ohio alone, and no voter is safe from the campaigns' stalkers.

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If you're a registered voter in Youngstown, Ohio, chances are you will meet Dave Betras.

"You guys vote? All right thank you," he says to some passersby. "You guys voted? Make sure you get everyone out to vote. "

As chairman of the Mahoning County Democrats, he will personally drive you on the Obama express, guide you, and even push you -- as he did for one woman in a wheelchair -- to the polls to vote early, combing neighborhoods like a fisherman hauling in a catch.

"We wanted to remove every impediment there is for everyone to be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote," Betras said.

He is haunted by the 2000 election and wants to keep Ohio from becoming the new Florida.

"People say one vote doesn't make a difference, Dean?" he told CBS News reporter Dean Reynolds. "537 votes. 537 votes made George Bush the president."

When asked what he would do if Gov. Mitt Romney won the election on November 6, Betras gave a long pause. "I am afraid of that," he said. "I don't want to think of that."

Miles away on a different bus, Scott Jennings is working to make that happen.

"We see people who sometimes miss elections coming out, taking advantage of early voting and that's helping us close the gap with Democrats," he said.

Jennings runs Mitt Romney's campaign in Ohio and is focused on early voting. With a series of get-out-the-vote rallies across the state, he is hoping to identify who has and has not cast a ballot.

"Sometime this week we will have eclipsed our six millionth voter contact. We'll knock on our two millionth door," he said.

Gov. Romney may draw a big crowd when he visits, but Jennings says it means more than that.

"We've been having eight, nine, ten, 12,000 people at some of these rallies. That's eight, nine, ten, 12,000 people that I can talk to about voting, volunteering, donating and generally getting involved in the campaign," he said.

According to CBS News' latest survey of people who've already voted in Ohio, the president leads Gov. Romney 54 percent to 39 percent.

The voters are eager and excited to head to the polls, too. At one site in Ohio, CBS News spotted people waiting in line for over an hour to cast their vote.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.