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Kerry closes gap in N.H. polls

John Kerry's surging presidential campaign continued gaining ground in opinion polls Wednesday, although large numbers of voters remain undecided, meaning the Granite State could be up for grabs heading into its Democratic primary Tuesday.

An American Research Group tracking survey taken Sunday through Tuesday, which includes some results taken after Kerry's win in Iowa Monday, showed the Massachusetts senator jumping 4 points to 24 percent, while former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean fell 2 points to 26 percent, putting the men in a statistical dead heat.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who skipped Iowa, dropped a point to 18 percent. Despite his strong second-place finish in Iowa, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards picked up only a single point to 9 percent, while Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who also skipped Iowa, held steady at 7 percent.

A three-day tracking poll by Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby showed Kerry jumping ahead of Dean after the Iowa vote, although the poll averages three days of survey results and Dean held a slim, 2-point lead. Perhaps most significant, the poll showed 16 percent of New Hampshire voters are undecided.

Candidate news . . .

HOWARD DEAN: Dean is expected to announce today that he wants to lower the limit of campaign contributions from $2,000 to $250.

Dean, who has opted out of the public financing system, said that special interests have bought both parties and that Washington lawmakers look after big donors instead of ordinary people. The average donation to Dean's campaign is less than $100.

JOHN KERRY: Kerry said Wednesday he favors allowing cheaper prescription drugs into the country from Canada and using the buying power of the federal government to drive down prices.

Offering a package of health care proposals in response to President Bush's State of the Union address, Kerry said he would end the role of brokers and middlemen who drive up prescription costs.

WESLEY CLARK: Clark, who recently wore an argyle sweater that was mocked by some reporters, has had the item put up for sale on the online auction site eBay. As of Wednesday night, the price had swelled to $5,304.

The Clark campaign donated the sweater to the Liberty House, a New Hampshire organization that aids veterans.

Internet voting system flawed, experts say

WASHINGTON _ An Internet voting system developed by the Pentagon for U.S. citizens overseas is so vulnerable to attacks that it should be scrapped, four computer security experts said in a report released Wednesday.

But the Pentagon is standing by the system, which could get its first test Feb. 3 in South Carolina's primary election.

The four computer security experts say the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, or SERVE, could be penetrated by hackers who could change votes or gather information about users.

Glenn Flood of the Defense Department said the Pentagon was confident the system is secure.

Florida is one of seven states that have signed on to the experimental system.

_ Go to www.sptimes.com/election for more Campaign 2004 coverage, including the latest poll results, profiles of presidential candidates and a primary calendar.

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