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Indiana voters turn out early despite rain

 Associated Press   02 November 2004
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana voters braved morning rain Tuesday to cast their ballots, waiting in long lines at some precincts, perhaps driven by the tight race for governor.

Incumbent Gov. Joe Kernan was expected to vote at St. Joseph's High School in his hometown of South Bend. Republican challenger Mitch Daniels voted just after the polls opened at St. Simon Catholic Church in Indianapolis.

"The mood for change is really strong in Indiana," Daniels said. "You just can't look at the thousands of faces I've been visiting with these last few days and not feel pretty excited."

Daniels said it was "swamped" where he voted, and had been told that was true elsewhere.

"That's good," he said. "I was really encouraged how many young people were there to greet me. That's a great sign, too."

Terry Burns, spokesman for state Democrats, said it was still early, but it seemed to be a heavy turnout, especially in central Indiana.

"It's not uncommon for lines of 50 to 100 people," he said. "The weather doesn't appear to be a factor. Even with this rain, we're getting a heavy turnout, especially in Marion County."

He had not checked the northern part of the state, but understood turnout in southern Indiana was also heavy.

The line at Broad Ripple High School on Indianapolis' northside was 25-people deep around 6 a.m. But by 8:30, it was wide open, and people could vote without waiting long.

A poll worker there said everything had gone smoothly. One of the precinct's voting machines was down for a time, but it had been fixed.

Elsewhere in Marion County, some optical scanners were not working. Still, officials said that did not prevent people from voting, as they were still able to fill out paper ballots that would be fed into the machines when they were operating.

In the primary, Marion County ran out of ballots at some precincts, so some people left the polls without voting.

Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler said she did not expect those same problems Tuesday.

"We have printed a ton of ballots, specifically one ballot for every registered voter plus some for spoilage," she said. "So we think we're in good shape."

The race for president was not expected to hold much suspense in the state with President Bush holding double-digit leads in most polls over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.

Still, Danica Johnson, 24, of Indianapolis, a college student, said she voted for Kerry.

"I was very much of the opinion that I was going to vote for anyone but Bush. But after seeing Kerry perform in the three debates, I felt inspired that he could be a great leader."

She voted for Kernan for governor.

"I've never been an extremely political person, but I found the Democratic Party aligns more with my belief system."

On the other side, Rod Hughes, 31, a technical consultant, said he voted for Bush.

"The overriding reason was how many children we lose a week from abortion. I don't think they differ too much on defense, but abortion was a big issue for me."

He also voted for Daniels

"It seems like there's a lot that could change in state government. We need a fresh perspective that we haven't had in a while."

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