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Republicans and Democrats to cast votes in separate booths

WARREN COUNTY Although considerable distance has historically existed politically between Republicans and Democrats in Warren County, Tuesdays primary election will bring a new physical separation between the two. For the first time in recent history, Warren County voters in the primary election will be segregated by party as they vote, county elections commissioners said Monday. Democrats and Republicans will enter different voting booths in order to vote for their respective candidates, county Democratic Elections Commissioner William Montfort said. In the past, each of the dozens of voting machines throughout the county had ballots displaying both Republican and Democratic primary candidates. But not this year. This segregation is to assure voting machines are reset properly for each voter and that votes are tabulated accurately, county Republican Commissioner Mary Beth Casey said. This is the most efficient, safe and problem-free setup, she said. We cant afford to have machine breakdowns. The separation of voters by party, Montfort and Casey said, was due to a new state Board of Elections decision to list candidates in two rows side-by-side on the ballot, which would have required election inspectors to push two separate levers to particular positions and depress a button all in the proper sequence or the voting machines would freeze up, they said. To avoid both hassles in retraining election inspectors and potential shut-downs of polling sites if an inspector were to slip up, Montfort and Casey decided that inspectors will shepherd the Democrats and Republicans into separate booths. In neighboring Essex County, Republicans and Democrats will not be separated. But Democratic Essex County Democratic Election Commissioner David Mace said this years complex machine resetting would likely prompt machine freeze-ups. There are a lot of new inspectors, and not being used to it, therell be mistakes, he said. Tuesdays primary vote in Warren County is likely to prompt a substantial turnout, county Commissioner Montfort predicted. Routinely, only 15 to 25 percent of registered voters in Warren County participate in presidential primaries. But Montfort estimated that 30 percent or more of the voters may show up at the polls on Super Tuesday. Montfort cited two reasons why. This years hard-fought presidential campaigns have been so prominent in the media, and the primaries feature two candidates from New York State Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Political observers have said the 2008 primaries to date in other states have experienced heavy turnouts, and the vote tally for Super Tuesday when 23 states hold their primary election is expected to follow suit. Polling sites will be open 12 noon to 9 p.m

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