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Sandusky Co. Polls Delay State Results Until 9 p.m.  (OH)

MyFox Toledo    04 May 2008

COLUMBUS (AP) Because of a ballot shortage in Sandusky County earlier in the morning, the State Secretary of State office has extended polling hours in the county until 9 p.m. As a result no counties across the state will release results until after 9 p.m.

Sandusky County Board of Elections office says they ran out of ballots at around 11:30 a.m. The ballots were mostly Democratic. They printed up new ballots, but due to equipment malfunctions, they fell behind in delivering the new ballots to the precincts.

As a result an estimated 300-400 Sandusky County residents chose to leave before voting. The board of elections petitioned a judge to extend voting hours.

Secretary of State spokesman Patrick Gallaway tells FOX Toledo News the polls will be extended until 9 p.m. because the state wants to make sure all Ohioans have a chance to vote in the primary.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner says she's received lots of reports of ballots running low because a larger-than-expected number of people are asking for Democratic ballots.

Clermont County in the Cincinnati area reported scattered shortages of ballots and hurried attempts to print more.

Some scattered voting glitches were also reported throughout the state.

In Toledo, Lucas County Elections Director Jill Kelly said two presiding judges failed to show up on time with vital items, such as memory cards for electronic voting machines. In one case, the sheriff's office was sent to retrieve the equipment; members of her staff went out to hunt down the other, she said.

In Sylvania Township, some voters say they never got a chance to vote on issues, including the 1.25-mill fire levy. There was a problem with the card that loads the ballots into the touch screen voting machines at a couple of voting precincts.

In Cleveland and the rest of Cuyahoga County, which was ordered in December to make a fast-track switch from touch-screen voting to paper ballots, some voters removed stubs that were meant for poll-worker handling. The ballots were still valid.

Ohio voters, mindful they could help Republican John McCain clinch a nomination and decide the competition between the Democratic presidential candidates, ignored rain, hail and sleet in large enough numbers Tuesday that officials expected record turnout for a primary.

Due to the icy winter weather conditions plaguing Northwest Ohio, the Lucas County Democratic post-election Party in Downtown Toledo has been cancelled.

Brunner predicted as many as 4 million voters, 52 percent of Ohio's registered voters, would cast ballots. Many got a head start before Tuesday by using absentee ballots - this was the first presidential primary in Ohio that didn't require voters to give a reason for using absentee ballots.

Turnout was steady around the state, but not so heavy that long lines were a problem, said Gallaway. Nearly 20,000 voters cast early ballots in Lucas County alone, according to the Lucas County Board of Elections office.

About 21.5% of registered county voters have gone to the polls as of 2:30 p.m., election officials tell FOX Toledo News.

Rain was a bigger issue. A least six counties with flooding problems - Jefferson, Adams, Harrison, Hocking, Perry and Pike - asked the state for permission to move voting sites located near water-covered roads, Gallaway said.

Ohio's primary typically comes well after presidential nominees are decided. But with Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in a tight race for nominating delegates, Ohio's contest was key.

Obama, in a midday satellite interview with WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, said he was aware of the inclement weather in Ohio but didn't think it would dampen his momentum in the state.

"You've seen the gap close. Sen. Clinton started off ahead 20 points, and now it's almost a dead heat," Obama said.

Earlier, Clinton told Ohio TV stations she also was feeling good about her prospects in the state.

Doug Jose, 57, computer specialist from Cincinnati, voted for Obama.

"I think we need some new leadership, and the other candidates represent more of the past than the future," Jose said.

In the Columbus suburb of Dublin, Democrat Tom Lawson voted for Clinton.

"I think her health care plan does the most to help small business owners," said Lawson, 37, who owns a printing company. He said he's able to offer health insurance to employees at the printing company but not to those at several gas stations he owns.

McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting, was hoping to collect enough delegates on Tuesday to win the nomination. Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont also held primaries.

McCain is right candidate for the times, said Genevieve Pennington, 80, a retired attorney in Cincinnati who voted for the Arizona senator.

"With his military experience, I think he is the best one to handle this war," she said of Iraq.

Pennington also said she was confident that votes would be counted timely and fairly in Ohio, a state with a recent history of election problems.

In other key races Tuesday, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, who abandoned a White House bid in January, faced a challenge to continue his 12-year tenure in the House. His opponents included Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman and Rosemary Palmer, the mother of a fallen soldier.

Republicans hold an 11-7 edge in the Ohio congressional delegation they have controlled for 14 years.

But three incumbent Republicans were not seeking re-election to their U.S. House seats - Reps. Ralph Regula, David Hobson and Deborah Pryce.

Early exit polls show independents are a sizable chunk of the electorate in presidential primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island
and Vermont.

In all those states except Rhode Island, Tuesday's primaries were "open," meaning all voters could choose which party's contest to vote in. In Rhode Island, only registered independents could choose between parties.

The surveys for The Associated Press and television networks found self-described independents were about one in five voters in Ohio's Democratic primary, one in four in Texas, a third in Rhode Island and four in 10 in Vermont.

Exit poll results for Republican primaries were available only in Ohio and Texas. In Ohio, independents were about one in seven GOP voters, in Texas one in five.

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