Ind. voting officials hope for smooth day

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. A record number of people have registered to vote in the Hoosier State.

They're hoping to get 90 percent voter participation. Barack Obama is also hoping to become the first Democrat in 44 years to win the presidential vote in Indiana. The last one was Lyndon B. Johnson. And in East Chicago, the Obama vote is coming out big.

Election judges have seen a steady stream of voters all day at EC-21, an East Chicago polling place with 475 registered voters on the book. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, more than 60 percent had already voted, and they were expecting many more during the late afternoon hours.

"Never in the 21 years, I have seen very low turnout. I have seen mediocre turnout, but this is really phenomenal for us," said Monica Santos, precinct inspector.

At this polling place with the two voting machines, things have gone smoothly all day since they opened the doors early Teusday morning to find a line of voters waiting to get in. This is a heavy Democratic area and even though Indiana is also electing a governor, most voters here say they're excited about the presidential race.

"It's going to be a good turnout hopefully," Santana Degollado, voter said "Hopefully Obama win. It is time for a change. And the same stuff with another president and tries that."

Lake County officials were hoping to avoid the spotlight because that would mean a problem-free election, unlike the primary in February when the roll count continued late into the night without a winner declared until the next day. Northwest Indiana has dealt with long lines at early voting sites and a legal challenge about phony voter registrations.

"There have been some issues like that and hotly contested elections, and we don't want Indiana to be the 2008 edition to Florida," said Noah Holcomb, Obama volunteer.

In Indiana, Lake County officials have taken steps to avoid that fate. They want nothing of what happened in February and have hired a bunch of new people and taken a number of other steps as well. In the meantime, it may still be a late night because the race is expected to come down to the wire in Indiana.

On another note, voters in Indiana are also deciding who will reside in the governor's mansion for the next four years.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels voted Tuesday morning in Indianapolis. He has been trying to convince voters to let him continue making changes in state government that he started four years ago. <

Democrat Jill Long Thompson is looking to defeat Daniels. She greeted voters Tuesday morning as they headed to the polls.

Thompson also says, if elected, her top would be to get Indiana's economy back on track.

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