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AREA ELECTION LEADERS SET FOR BIG DAY

After endless campaigning, hundreds of millions of dollars spent, and all the charges and countercharges, it all comes down to today -- Election Day.

Voters across the state and nation will be heading to the polls to consider a ballot headed by the big one -- the contest between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John F. Kerry for president. Across New York State, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Voter turnout is expected to be the heaviest in years, according to elections officials, because of intense interest in the presidential contest.

"We've been bombarded with phone calls (about the election)," said Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Laurence F. Adamczyk, regarding interest in the mechanics of voting.

Anticipating even more questions throughout the day, Adamczyk and Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr announced Monday they have established a special hotline to handle voters' questions or concerns. Anybody with such inquiries can call the board at 858-2936.

"We'll handle any questions at all," Adamczyk said, including inquiries on location of polling places.

They also said posters explaining the New York State Voter's Bill of Rights have been distributed to each polling place for display, and the board will dispatch throughout the county roving teams of employees armed with cellular telephones to handle any questions or problems that may arise.

The commissioners also said unofficial election results will be posted on the Erie County Web site at www.erie.gov.

Other major contests also will appear on today's ballot, including the election for U.S. Senate between Democratic incumbent Charles E. Schumer and Republican challenger Howard Mills.

The big race between Republican Nancy A. Naples and Democrat Brian M. Higgins for the 27th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr. highlights a card of four area Congressional races.

Others include Republican incumbent Thomas M. Reynolds against Democrat Jack Davis in the 26th District; Democratic incumbent Louise M. Slaughter against Republican Michael Laba in the 28th, and Republican John R. Kuhl against Democrat Samara Barend in the 29th District seat being vacated by Rep. Amo Houghton.

All representatives to the State Legislature also will be up for election today.

Voters also will elect three State Supreme Court justices throughout the eight counties of Western New York, while Erie County voters will select a Family Court judge and re-elect District Attorney Frank J. Clark, who has bipartisan backing.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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