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Voter Turnout Sets N.H. Dem Record

A hotly contested seven-way race lured a record number of voters to the polls in New Hampshire's (searchDemocratic presidential primary Tuesday.

More than 208,000 Democratic ballots were cast, shattering the mark of 170,000 set in 1992, when Paul Tsongas (searchbeat Bill Clinton (search).

Overall turnout did not set a record because the Republican primary was essentially uncontested.

Secretary of State William Gardner had predicted 184,000 votes in the Democratic primary, about one third of them independents. Independents may vote in either primary.

In Manchester, the state's largest city, Clerk Leo Bernier called the turnout excellent.

"The independents are coming out to vote. New registrations are high," he said.

At the Parker-Varney School on Manchester's West Side, ward clerk Vinnie McHugh said that in the first two hours after the polls opened at 6 a.m., turnout was about 50 percent higher than normal.

"It's a little bit heavier than usual ... especially with the frigid weather," he said, as the mercury inched up to 10 degrees.

A combined 395,000 votes were cast in 2000 in the Democratic and Republican primaries, both of which were contested.

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