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Focus on embattled Bass in N.H.

NASHUA --With an uncompetitive governor's race and no US Senate race on the ballot today, voters in New Hampshire went to the polls focused on the state's two highest-profile congressional races.

One of the races, in the Second District making up the state's western half, has drawn national attention because of the possibility that Democrat Paul Hodes will defeat six-term incumbent Republican Charlie Bass.

In that race, both campaigns say that the city of Nashua is the key to victory. On Monday, both held lunchtime rallies across Main Street from each other, and both returned today to meet with voters as they headed to the polls.

Pat Lucier, of the Nashua clerk's office, said turnout had been very high in the city, including two wards that went for Bass in 2004.

Turnout was consistently high all over the state. Voters came out in force in Republican strongholds like Bow, Haverhill, Piermont and Pike, and in Democratic towns like Keene, Hampton and Portsmouth, where one Democratic activist said turnout was at levels similar to a presidential year.

This year, New Hampshire changed the format of the ballot, which some party officials believed would create confusion at the polls. On the new ballot, two candidates running against each other will appear side by side, instead of one on top of the other.

Assistant Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said that by noon, there had not been any problems at the polls with the ballots or any other issue.

"It has gone smoother than I had thought," he said.

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