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PATRIOTISM A FACTOR IN UNIQUE PRIMARY

With her niece and nephew waiting to be called for military duty, Lynda Brundige of 18th Street in Buffalo wanted to do her part in fighting the country's new war on terrorism.

So she voted Tuesday.

"It's the least I can do, other than pray and ask God to guide us," said Brundige, who voted in the fire station on Rhode Island Street. "I'm coming here today to participate in democracy. It's my way of supporting my niece and nephew."

Tuesday's primary election holds a unique place in history, because it was delayed for two weeks because of terrorist attacks on American soil Sept. 11 -- the day the primaries were initially planned.

As polls were opening Tuesday, there had been talk among Democratic and Republican leaders that the resurgence in patriotic spirit seen in America in recent weeks could translate into more voters coming to the polls in Tuesday's election.

But with rain falling much of the day -- and especially heavy rains walloping the area in the early evening -- turnout for this primary was lower than usual countywide, according to Laurence Adamczyk, Democratic county elections commissioner.

Adamczyk estimated that countywide, fewer than 20 percent of registered Republicans and no more than 25 percent of Democrats voted.

The fact that there were no state or federal races at the top of the ticket, and few high-profile battles at the local level, also hurt turnout. He said there were some higher-than-normal turnouts in isolated districts where some races were bitter.

Typically, turnout in primary races in Erie County ranges from about 20 percent to 30 percent, elections officials said.

Still, the horrific terrorist attacks that killed and injured thousands on Sept. 11 weighed heavily on the minds of some voters at the polls Tuesday.

Zena Jackson, a resident at the Ferry Houses on East Ferry Street, had planned to vote Sept. 11 but was stunned by and engrossed in the television coverage of the terrorism.

"I totally forgot about the elections," said Jackson, who voted in her apartment complex Tuesday. "I don't think anybody's mind was on voting. I'm glad they rescheduled it."

Tracy Diina, an Elmwood Avenue resident, said she came out to vote two weeks ago and returned because she knew her first vote wouldn't count.

"I was here two weeks ago, and I voted at 7:30 in the morning. Then I saw in the paper that my vote didn't count," said Diina, who added that she made a point to come back to the polls. Other voters are as patriotic as she is, she said.

Robert Widger of Ashland Avenue in Buffalo also voted Tuesday for the second time in two weeks.

"It's great that we get to vote again, but the circumstances are sad," said Widger, who voted on Rhode Island Street. "Being here, and knowing why you are voting again, reminds you of the tragedy."

In Cheektowaga, Sam Lewis was ready to vote Sept. 11, but got to the polls just after they were closed.

"I'm going to vote the same anyway," he said.

In Amherst, at the Harlem Road Community Center, John Kujawa said he always votes in primaries, so he voted Tuesday. He said he doesn't think the terrorist attack and subsequent events would increase voter turnout in a primary, but does anticipate higher turnout in November.

"I think you'll find a lot more people voting in the general election," he said.

News Staff Reporters Pam Kowalik, T.J. Pignataro and Charity Vogel contributed to this report.

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and sschulman@buffnews.com

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