Ark. voters line up for last early voting day

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Early voting for this week's election has ended, and state officials say they've already seen a record number of people cast ballots ahead of the official election day.

By Monday night, a record 372,931 people had voted early in the election. The secretary of state's office says 24 percent of the state's 1.68 million registered voters cast ballots through early or absentee voting.

Interest in the race may be high among voters, even though the candidates themselves haven't been a major presence in the state. With former Governor Mike Huckabee pursuing the Republican nomination and former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton seeking the Democratic nod, the state at the beginning of the year seemed poised to play a major role in the presidential contest. After Huckabee and then Clinton bowed out of their party races, the state was relegated to a bit player in the national contest between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.

State Republicans are confident the state, which went for George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, will once again go their way. McCain has visited the state twice since he clinched his party's nomination.

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