Absentee requests show early interest in Delaware primary

DOVER − Voter interest in Delaware’s presidential primary was evident even before the polls opened Tuesday morning.

State elections commissioner Elaine Manlove said voters had requested 6,410 absentee ballots in advance of Tuesday’s primary, more than double the 2,624 that were counted in 2008, the most recent year in which Republicans and Democrats held presidential primaries in Delaware.

She said turnout at the polls Tuesday was higher than in a typical presidential primary.

Republicans were choosing between Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Democrats were casting their votes for former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Voters also were casting ballots in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

For Republicans, Delaware offered 16 winner-take-all delegates.

“I expect Donald Trump to win big. I think he wins with 50 percent, plus or minus 5,” said state GOP Chairman Charlie Copeland. The billionaire, brash-talking businessman was the only Republican candidate to visit Delaware, drawing thousands of people to a rally at the state fairgrounds last week. Kasich and Cruz, whose mother was born in Wilmington, opted not to visit the First State.

On the Democratic side, 21 delegates were up for grabs, to be apportioned between Clinton and Sanders based on Tuesday’s final vote count. Both candidates visited Wilmington in the days leading up to the election.

Charles Henrich, a union electrician from Dover, said he voted for Sanders.

“He’s more for the union guy than she is,” Henrich said.

State Democratic Party chairman John Daniello said stormy weather forecast for the region on Tuesday could keep some voters, especially senior citizens, at home, which plays to Sanders’ advantage.

Delaware has a closed primary, meaning only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their respective primaries. Unaffiliated voters, who account for about 23 percent of Delaware’s roughly 600,000 registered voters, must remain on the sidelines until the November general election.

Randall Chase writes for the Associated Press

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