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Heavy voter turnout expected

| October 29, 2004 12:00 AM

A heavy turnout is expected on Tuesday as local voters cast their ballots in a variety of national, state and county races along with a number of statewide ballot issues.

More than 1,600 of Lincoln County¹s 12,421 registered voters have already weighed in via absentee ballots, said Clerk and Recorder Coral Cummings. By the time the polls close on Tuesday, Cummings expects that around 8,000 votes will have been cast for a turnout of 64 percent of total voters or 80 percent of the roughly 10,000 on the ³active² list. The more than 2,000 inactive voters still on the books include many people who no longer live in the county, Cummings said.

Cummings attributed the heavy interest in this year¹s election to the hotly contested presidential race and the accompanying publicity and efforts by the political parties to increase turnout.

³I think that is bringing people out,² she said.

Voters across Montana will decide races for governor, secretary of state, auditor, superintendent of public instruction and for two seats on the state Supreme Court along with U.S. representative.

Gubernatorial candidates are Democrat Brian Schweitzer, Republican Bob Brown, Libertarian Stanley Jones and Green Party candidate Bob Kelleher.

Candidates for secretary of state are Republican Brad Johnson and Democrat Bill Kennedy.

Candidates for state auditor are incumbent Democrat John Morrison and Republican challenger Duane Grimes.

Candidates for superintendent of public instruction are incumbent Democrat Linda McCullough and Republican challenger Bob Anderson.

The Supreme Court races pit incumbent Jim Nelson against Cindy Younkin and Brian Morris against Ed McLean.

The race for Montana¹s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representative is between incumbent Republican Denny Rehberg and Democratic challenger Tracy Velazquez.

Statewide ballot measures include initiatives and proposed constitutional amendments involving noxious weed management, recognizing Montanans¹ right to harvest wild fish and game, extending term limits and banning gay marriage along with initiatives to allow cyanide leach processing at open pit mines, allowing the use of medical marijuana and increasing tobacco taxes.

Locally, voters will select state representatives for House districts 1 and 2. In District 1, incumbent Democrat Eileen Carney is running against Republican Ralph Heinert and Constitution Party candidate Russell Brown. In District 2, Republican incumbent Rick Maedje is facing a challenge from Democrat Noel Williams.

For the District 2 county commissioner position, John Konzen, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican challenger Robert Ferguson.

In the county clerk of court race, incumbent Democrat Nadine Pival is running unopposed. District court judge Michael Prezeau is also running unopposed.

All precincts except 5 and 14 will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Hours at precincts 5 and 14 will be noon to 8 p.m.

A new law requires voters to present photo identification, any form of identification showing name and current address, a utility bill, a paycheck, a bank statement or any document showing name and current address.