Record Turnout in Plains States
By Carol D. Leonnig
In the rural and Republican-leaning Plains states, election officials who had already expected voter turnout to break records were scurrying today to adjust those predictions upward.
In Kansas, election officials had predicted on Friday they would see an unprecedented 78 percent of registered voters turning out for the election based on heavy early voting patterns. But this afternoon, officials in the Jayhawk state were upping that estimate to 80 percent.
In North Dakota, which is leaning toward John McCain but is considered a battleground state because of McCain's criticism of ethanol subsidies, state election officials are expecting to see at least 69 percent of eligible voters turn out, the record set in 1984.
Early voting had been surprisingly high in this sparsely-populated Plains region, dominated by corn fields and lifelong Republicans. In the last presidential election, 246,000 Kansans voted early, but the state estimated this year that 400,000 voted before this election day. About 113,000 North Dakotans voted early this year, which represents a surprising third of the total number of state residents who voted in the last presidential election.
Plains states officials said voting lines were long, particularly in urban areas like Wichita and Kansas City, but no major voting problems have surfaced.
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