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Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:02PM - 152 Views

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HARRISBURG — Voter turnout was strong on Tuesday amid confusion at polling places over voter identification rules in Pennsylvania, which played a key role in determining whether Republicans or Democrats control the White House and the U.S. Senate.


Democrats had won the past five presidential elections in the state, including President Barack Obama's win four years ago, but a strong, late push by Republicans raised the level of drama. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes, the fifth-most of any state.


Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney staged an aggressive, last-minute effort to erode Obama's support.


County election officials around the state had expected turnout to be around 70 percent of Pennsylvania's nearly 8.5 million voters, and lines were long.


Voters went to the polls with the economy on their minds. In interviews, six in 10 called the economy their top issue, far outpacing the two in 10 citing health care or one in eight calling the deficit their top concern.


One in five voters said they are better off today than they were four years ago, and four in 10 said the economy itself was improving. Still, a third of voters said it was getting worse and one in five called the economy bad and stagnant.


Last month, a state judge blocked a new Republican-sponsored law requiring Pennsylvania voters to show photo ID. As a result of the judge's ruling, polling place workers still had to ask voters for a photo ID, but no one was required to produce one. A state law still requires first-time voters to show ID.


But reports were rife of election workers nonetheless demanding photo ID from voters or outdated literature, such as posters in polling places saying photo ID is required.


Poll watchers reported other problems around the state in the first few hours of voting, including Republican inspectors being denied access to polling places in Philadelphia.


In 2008, nearly 68 percent of more than 8.7 million registered voters, or 6 million people, cast a ballot.


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