Associated Press
March 4, 2008

With a surprisingly large role to play in the Democratic presidential race late in the primary season, Ohio had the daunting job Tuesday of running an election with new systems in many locations, particularly trouble-prone Cleveland.

In Cuyahoga County, which was ordered in December to make a fast-track switch from touch-screen voting to paper ballots, poll worker Bill Hallock in suburban Westlake said the printed ballots were easier for voters to understand, although they took a little longer to fill out.

“It was way more easy to vote,” said Acy Streeter, 51, who voted in Cleveland. “All you have to do is blacken the oval under the candidate.”

“I like this better, because I’m sure it is going to get counted,” Cleveland voter Matt Wilson said of the paper ballots.

With 250,000 registered Democrats, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County could be critical to the primary campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

After some voter confusion about a removable stub on the ballots, the county sent a message to polling sites telling them to keep the stub attached because it is taken off later during tabulations.

Election officials around the state said the start of voting was generally smooth and polling sites were busy despite heavy rain, with some sleet in Cleveland. There were isolated instances of temporary delays getting polling sites running, but lines of voters mostly moved quickly.

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