Pasco replaces two optical scanners after 'sporadic jams'
DADE CITY -- Optical scanners at two west Pasco precincts were replaced today after what the county's elections chief described as "sporadic jams."
The machines were at First Christian Church, 11820 Nature Trail, Bayonet Point, and the Moon Lake Civic Center, 9226 Moon Lake Road in Moon Lake.
Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said the replacements were brought in mainly as a precaution and that voting was not affected.
"The staff felt we needed to go above and beyond," he said.
Corley said his staff has been so busy handling the heavy turnout and voting issues that he told them to stop worrying about turning in up-to-the-minute turnout figures.
"We have been swamped," he said. "I expect us to have 85 percent turnout."
Electronic signature pads at five precincts that were inoperable in the morning have been fixed, he said.
In the eastern half of the county, turnout was heaviest in the morning just after the polls opened at 7 a.m. but since dropped off at most places, even in precincts with higher numbers of African-American voters.
At two downtown Dade City churches, there was no wait about noon. Ditto for the Masonic Lodge Trilby Lodge No. 141 F & AM, 21049 Old Trilby Road and First Baptist Church, 21012 Bower Road in Lacoochee.
James Davis, his wife, Rena, both 74, of Trilby, and their 50-year-old son, Larry, all voted for Barack Obama today.
"I never thought I'd see this day," said James, a retired railroad worker who once had to eat lunch in the kitchen apart from his white colleagues because he was black.
He and Rena, who wore American flag shirts, said they were happy to witness history in the making. But they are loyal Democrats and would have voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton had she won the nomination.
They said Obama was running because he wants to be president, not because he's trying to make a racial statement.
"He's running so people can be somebody, get good wages, get Medicare, the young people can go to school, and the older people can get the insurance they need," James said.
At nearby First Baptist Church in Lacoochee, Larry Huggins, 47, cast a reluctant vote for John McCain.
"I'm not impressed with McCain," he said. "But (with Obama) I'm not sure all the cards are on the table," said Huggins, who has a son in the Marines. "This election is making me nervous."
Lisa Buie, Times staff writer