Enquirer News Update   -   Updated 6:40 p.m.

Issue 1 passes

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio enacted one of the country's toughest gay marriage bans Tuesday, re-elected a Republican U.S. senator and favored congressional incumbents in an election dominated by record lines.

Midday waits of two to three hours were reported from Cincinnati to Cleveland, and many counties reported polls staying open after 7:30 p.m. to accommodate people in line.

By a 3-to-2 ratio, voters approved a gay marriage ban that also bars local and state governments from recognizing unmarried couples of either sex.

Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich handily won a second term, defeating challenger Eric Fingerhut, a Democratic state senator who walked 355 miles across the state to make his case to voters.

In congressional races, incumbents won eight of 18 seats in early results.

In Columbus, voters used umbrellas and plastic ponchos to ward off steadily falling rain. In Toledo, voters struggled to find parking places. In Oberlin in northeastern Ohio, a campus polling place saw waits of at least four hours.

"It's our job," Amanda Karel, 25, an Ohio State University graduate student, said as she waited to vote at a banquet hall in Columbus. "It's what we're supposed to do."

Then she joked, "It's the only way to make the ads stop."

An Election Day preceded by fears of widespread problems came down to isolated glitches.

A union hall in Akron temporarily lost power. Some Madison County voters accidentally received ballots listing Ralph Nader, who was removed from the Ohio ballot. In Trumbull County in northeast Ohio, a GOP challenger was removed from a polling place for being too aggressive in questioning.

The race for president was intense in battleground Ohio, where polls put the contest at about even between President Bush and Democrat John Kerry. Both candidates visited the state repeatedly. Bush was in Columbus on Election Day, thanking supporters, hours after Kerry finished his final Ohio rallies in Cleveland and Toledo.

Bush won the state four years ago by only 3.6 percentage points.

Voters also decided the fate of hundreds of school levies around the state and chose state and U.S. lawmakers as well as Ohio Supreme Court justices.