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Wisconsin presidential primary dominates ballot

By Scott Bauer

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 5:20 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum pauses while speaking in Menasha, Wis., Monday, April 2, 2012.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — The Republican presidential primary election had little competition on Tuesday's ballot across Wisconsin, with no other statewide issue before voters.

Still, election officials were predicting 35 percent of the 4.3 million people of voting age will turn out. That was based on voter interest in the ongoing struggle for the GOP nomination and thousands of local races for offices such as mayor, school board and county board.

In 2008, when it was the Democrats who were in the middle of a presidential nomination fight, turnout was also 35 percent.

Wisconsin has an open primary, so anyone who wishes to vote in the Republican presidential race can do so.

Weather shouldn't be an impediment to voting, with warm temperatures forecast across much of the state and only isolated thunderstorms possible.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. statewide. While voters were required to show photo identification in order to obtain a ballot in the February spring election primary, that law has since been blocked by two judges and won't be in effect Tuesday.

That means voters won't need a photo ID but will have to sign the poll book. That is a new requirement that was also in effect in February.

If a person is asked to show ID, they should not comply and instead ask to talk to a chief inspector, said Reid Magney, spokesman for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which regulates elections in the state. If they are still told an ID is necessary, they should call the municipal clerk and, if necessary, the GAB, Magney said.

Even with myriad local races on the ballot, the presidential primary was by far the premiere issue attracting voters. Maryland and Washington, D.C., were also holding presidential primaries Tuesday.

All four of the remaining Republican candidates campaigned across Wisconsin in the week leading up to Tuesday's vote, holding rallies, sipping beers, bowling and giving lectures.

Front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and chief rival Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, spent the most time in Wisconsin. Both remained in the state Monday, but only Romney planned to be in the state when the votes were being counted Tuesday night. He was scheduled to be in Milwaukee.

Santorum planned to spend Tuesday night in his home state.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul made only one stop in Wisconsin, a boisterous rally that attracted about 2,500 in Madison last week.

And Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made numerous stops in Wisconsin but planned to spend election day in Maryland.

There are 42 delegates at stake in Wisconsin, with 18 going to the statewide winner. The victor in each of the state's eight congressional districts win three delegates, setting up the possibility that more than one candidate may come away at least a partial winner.

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