Parties focused on Election Day turnout efforts

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- Republican congressional candidate Vernon Parker was working the phones Saturday, calling voters in Arizona's 9th Congressional District from his headquarters in Phoenix and urging them to vote.

Democratic 2nd District candidate Ron Barber was doing the same in Tucson, and joining volunteers as they canvassed neighborhoods knocking on doors.

Welcome to the final hours of what has been a frenzied 2012 campaign in Arizona and across the nation.

Arizona candidates and political parties were pulling out all the stops Saturday as they geared up for a final push to Tuesday's election.

Democrats were organizing what they called a huge get-out-the-vote effort, with rallies, precinct walking and phone banks staffed by hundreds of volunteers. Republicans were doing much of the same, plus training hundreds of poll-watchers who will be deployed to observe balloting on Tuesday.

Both parties know turnout could be decisive in some races, including congressional seats and those in the state Senate and House. Democrats in particular need a strong effort since Republicans are generally more consistent voters.

"We feel that the ground game is going to determine the outcome of the election," said Frank Camacho, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. "That's why all over the state we're contacting every voter we possibly can. We're calling them, we're knocking on doors, and we're making as many voter contacts as we can."

The Arizona Republican Party trained observers for 700 Maricopa County polling places on Saturday, and was coordinating phone banks and precinct walks with candidates across the state, spokesman Tim Sifert said.

"We understand our future is at stake and people are really engaged," Sifert said.

Both parties were reminding voters who have not yet mailed their early ballots that it's too late to do so now and they'll need to drop them off at a polling place if they want their vote to count.

In the race to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, Republican Jeff Flake was running teams of campaign staffers in every part of the state and was rallying campaign volunteers across Phoenix. He will embark on a final statewide swing with Kyl and Sen. John McCain on Monday, heading to Tucson, Kingman, Snowflake and Prescott. Meanwhile, Democrat Richard Carmona started his day at a rally in Phoenix and planned to visit five campaign offices in metropolitan Phoenix Saturday, with a grueling schedule set in the days ahead.

Democratic 9st District candidate Kyrsten Sinema was also campaigning, as was Martha McSally, the Republican challenging Barber in the 2nd District.

In the open 1st District seat, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick started Saturday with a rally in Oro Valley in Pima County and was headed to Casa Grande. In the next three days she'll work her way up the sprawling district, with stops in Casa Grande, towns in the White Mountains and then onto the Navajo Nation on Tuesday, spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said Saturday.

Her opponent, Republican Jonathan Paton, said he sent Saturday walking precincts and manning phone banks in Marana and Oro Valley. He planned to set out Sunday for a big swing through the district, starting with a volunteer rally in Flagstaff and then heading to Snowflake and Navajo County and ending up back in Phoenix Monday night.

Election Day he'll hit Maricopa, Casa Grande and Coolidge before ending up in Tucson to watch the election results come in.

"I've been sleeping about four hours a night pretty much for the last several weeks, and I've got a lot of miles on my car since this race started, and some narrow misses with some elk," he said after finally catching lunch at midafternoon Saturday.

Parker's spokeswoman, Alyssa Pivirotto, said he too will be on the go virtually non-stop until the polls close Tuesday night.

"It's really working tireless hours," she said. "We're going to make sure he sleeps and eats good meals, but other than that it's knocking on doors and making calls."