The Washington Times - January 29, 2008, 04:25PM
Sen. Hillary Clinton

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Despite a hotly contested Republican race, polling stations throughout much of Florida were reporting modest turnouts. Elections officials cited early voting (Floridians may vote in national contests up to two weeks prior to election day) and a Democratic contest neutered after the national Democratic Party stripped the Sunshine State of its delegates when the Florida party moved its primary ahead of Feb. 5.\

\ At Hillsborough County’s Precinct 131 polling station in Tampa’s affluent Hyde Park neighborhood, an election official at mid-day predicted a turnout of about 30 to 35 percent — about half the precinct’s turnout for the 2004 presidential primary.\

\ “Early voting definitely has an effect,” said assistant precinct clerk Robert Arnold Walter. “It really takes the pressure off the polls late in the afternoon. In the 2004 [presidential election] it was like Disneyland here, we had lines everywhere.”\

\ Walter also cited some confusion among Democratic voters.\

\ “One woman, a Democrat, came in and complained that her vote wasn’t going to count,” he said. “I said ‘I can’t help you with that.’”

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Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times