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Steady stream of voters in NH polls

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A steady flow of voters kept many polling places busy Tuesday in New Hampshire, a battleground state for the presidency with an open gubernatorial seat for the first time in eight years.

Voters turned out early, braving the cold to weigh in on the fate of New Hampshire's four electoral votes in a tight race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. They also are deciding between Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne for governor.

In Concord, undeclared voter Bob Leighton showed his support for all Democrats, starting with Obama. The 56-year-old computer programmer said his family's financial situation is about the same as it was four years ago. He thinks the economy is improving slowly.

"I'm worried about some of the things Romney's going to do as far as taxes," he said. "I feel Obama is doing a good job. Things aren't changing enough for some people, but I feel like he's doing things the right way."

Carolyn Coskren of Concord, who owns a dance studio, voted for Romney.

"I've seen my business have a lot of rough times in the last four years," the 37-year-old undeclared voter said. "I think that the promises made in the last four years have not been kept. You can't do everything in four years, but things have gotten worse in a lot of ways rather than better. I just feel that Mitt Romney can do a very good job on the economy, and for me, that's very important right now."

In the gubernatorial race, Coskren said she voted for Lamontagne, saying she heard him speak at Romney's rally in Manchester on Monday night and was impressed with him.

Leighton voted for Hassan. "I just feel like voting for Lamontagne would be like voting for someone back in in the 1950s," he said.

Republican Larry Hause of Newbury, who owns a flooring company, voted for Romney but "switched it over" at the state level to vote for Hassan.

"Lynch has been doing a good job with the state," said Hause, 57, referring to New Hampshire's longtime, departing governor, Democrat John Lynch. He believes Hassan will continue that. "I don't have any big complaints with the state."

Voting officials said they saw large turnouts. At Newbury, 630 of the town's 1,539 registered voters had weighed in, and there were 219 absentee ballots waiting to be counted.

Some voting lines lingered as voters were asked to show photo identification or receive an affidavit under the state's new voter identification law. The last polls close at 8 p.m.

New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, got an early start with its traditional midnight voting in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location.

The polls opened and closed within 43 seconds in Dixville Notch, where Obama and Romney each received 5 votes — the first time there's been a tie in the community. In Hart's Location, Obama won with 23 votes, Romney received 9 and Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1 vote. Voting there took 5 minutes, 42 seconds.

Secretary of State William Gardner predicted 722,000 people, or 70 percent of New Hampshire's voting age population, would cast ballots. More than 808,000 people are registered, and voters also can register at the polls.

Voters also were deciding close races for two congressional seats and cast ballots for 400 state House seats and 24 state Senate seats.

In the presidential race, both sides point to 2000, when Democrat Al Gore lost New Hampshire by 7,000 popular votes to Republican George W. Bush. Had Gore prevailed in New Hampshire, he would have had the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election, and the famously disputed Florida vote would not have determined the race.

A WMUR-TV Granite State Poll released Sunday night showed Obama slightly ahead of Romney in New Hampshire. In the gubernatorial race — where Lynch's retirement is leaving an open seat for the first time in a decade — the poll showed Democrat Hassan leading Republican Lamontagne, with 12 percent undecided.

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster had a slight lead over Republican Rep. Charles Bass in the 2nd Congressional District in northern and Western New Hampshire, while Republican Rep. Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter were tied in the 1st District in southeastern New Hampshire. Both races are rematches of 2010.

Both parties predict Democratic gains in the Statehouse. The number in the House is 288 Republican to 102 Democrats with 10 vacancies. There are 18 Republicans and five Democrats in the Senate, with one vacancy.

Voters also faced a lengthy ballot with two proposed constitutional amendments.

___

Associated Press reporter Lynne Tuohy in Newbury, N.H., contributed to this report.


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