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Long lines expected this presidential election day





By Sherry Koonce

The News staff writer

Voters will go to the polls today to elect a new national leader in an election that has spurred political interest not seen in years.

Polling places are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., but voters should be prepared for long lines to cast their vote for either Republican presidential candidate John McCain, or Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate.

“We are expecting long lines. Normally about 50 percent vote early, and about 50 percent vote the day of the election,” Carolyn Guidry, Jefferson County Clerk, said.

If early voting is any indication, the number of Jefferson County voters casting their ballots on the traditional election day should be above normal.

Of the county’s 151,568 registered voters, a little more than 42 percent, or 64,190, voted early.

Guidry said voting equipment has been checked, and no problems were found.

Due to the number of people expected to vote Tuesday, local party leaders say it could be well into the night before a winner is determined.

“This is an extraordinary example of democracy at work. We’ve not seen this amount of enthusiasm from hundreds and hundreds of people locally for years,” Henry Adams, Jefferson County Democratic Party chairman, said.

Republican Party Chairman Shane Howard said his party was equally thrilled about this year’s general election.

“There is a lot of excitement. Locally, we have worked very hard, trying to grow the party, and to broaden our base in Jefferson County,” Howard said. “It is definitely an exciting time to be an American.”

Howard said he looked for the election to be closer than what the latest national polls are indicating.

“I think it will come out much closer to 2 percentage points. The key is which states it falls in. This is going to be a very electorally-driven election,” Howard said.

The final Gallup 2008 pre-election poll released Monday shows Obama with a 53 percent over McCain’s 42 percent. The final poll is based on tracking of likely voters from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2. Factor in proportionately undecided voters, and the estimate becomes 55 percent for Obama to 44 percent for McCain.

Both party leaders said they expected their candidate to be the next U.S. president, but pointed out that whoever wins will be the leader for all Americans.

“We are just urging everyone to go out and vote and finish this election with a record vote,” Adams said.

In addition the presidential race, the Precinct 3 County Commissioners race is on the ballot. Democratic candidate Michael “Shane” Sinegal is running against Libertarian candidate Kevin McCarthy.

Groves residents will be deciding two contested races.

Former Groves Mayor Bill Joe and current Mayor Brad Bailey are seeking the city’s mayoral seat.

Larry Perio and Karen Theis are on the ballot for the Ward 2 set.

Several contested state races are on the ballot.