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Ballots, turnout keep California vote counters up late

  • Story Highlights
  • CNN projects Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain California winners
  • More than a third of California's 58 counties go back to paper ballots
  • At least 700,000 more Californians registered to vote Tuesday than in 2004
  • Voters told erroneously in New Jersey they were registered for different parties
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- It had the nation waiting during Super Tuesday, but California handed wins to Hillary Clinton and John McCain early Wednesday morning, CNN projects.

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Returns from California's primary could be delayed because of paper ballots.

Polls closed in California at 8 p.m., meaning folks on the East Coast had to stay up until 11 p.m. just to see the polls on the West Coast close.

County registrars across California predicted record turnout.

A move from electronic to paper ballots meant many votes in the state had to be counted the old-fashioned way.

California is the biggest prize of the 24 states holding primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday. At stake are 370 Democratic and 170 Republican delegates. Video Watch why California is so important »

Clinton can thank Latino and Asian voters for her projected victory in the state.

Early exit polls indicated that Sen. Barack Obama was carrying the white vote in California because of his overwhelming support among white men. White women, as in other states, more often were backing Clinton.

Black voters overwhelmingly favor Obama but Asian voters, whose numbers are comparable to blacks in the most populous state, went overwhelmingly for Clinton.

The deciding factor may be Latinos, who make up roughly 30 percent of California's Democratic vote. They were going for Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin.

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As in other states, Clinton was drawing more support from moderate and conservative Democrats, those who emphasize experience and those who say the economy is the most important issue facing the country.

Obama was drawing more support from independents, those looking for a candidate who can effect change and those who think the war in Iraq is the most important issue.

As elsewhere, Clinton was running better among lower-income Democratic voters; Obama was faring better among the college educated and those with higher income.

The numbers could make or break the contests between Sen. McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the Republican side.

The numbers are also key for Democrats. Obama and Clinton were separated by about 70 delegates going into Super Tuesday.

In California, voting appeared to be going smoothly except for a reported delay in getting voting machines delivered and assembled at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. State officials said that caused a delay of more than four hours for dozens of voters. By Tuesday evening, the system was up and running, the officials said.

Compounding the state's vote-counting challenges were millions of absentee ballots and early voting ballots that have yet to be turned in. California officials said many of those voters were expected to drop the ballots off at their polling places Tuesday.

Because of concerns over reliability, California decertified many of the state's electronic voting machines. More than a third of the state's 58 counties will go from directly recorded electronic ballots to paper.

In places such as San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, where more than 3,000 voting machines were sitting in a warehouse, paper ballots were back. Paper ballots will take more time to count, said Kari Verjil, San Bernardino County's registrar.

Los Angeles County never stopped using paper ballots, but poll workers still conducted a dry run this weekend to prepare for the predicted high volume.

The voters were expected to come out in droves. There were at least 700,000 more Californians registered to vote Tuesday than there were four years ago. In December alone, the state's voter rolls jumped by 240,000.

The spike in registered voters could be sparked, in part, by California officials' decision to move the state's primary from June to Super Tuesday this year.

"All signs are that this is going to be a very high-turnout election," said Dean Logan, a registrar in Los Angeles County. "We know that California is at play in the presidential nomination process."

In other states Tuesday:

Heavy snowfall was inconveniencing some would-be voters in southern Colorado, Dian Campbell, a CNN I-Report contributor who lives near Antonito, said snow was up to her shoulders at her front door. She was making calls "to see if we can put together a snowmobile patrol to pick people up because the roads in most of the county are unpassable." If that didn't pan out, she and her husband were considering riding horses, Campbell said.

In Georgia, voters reported long lines and voting machine problems at some polling places in metro Atlanta, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported, but state officials disputed that, saying they had no reports of machines down.

Earlier Tuesday, at one polling station in downtown Atlanta, voters received paper ballots after voting machines malfunctioned, the station reported. At another polling spot, I-Reporter Judy McCabe Smith said she stood waiting for 75 minutes in a line that stretched around three walls of a basketball gymnasium. CNN spoke with a state official who said there could be a slight problem with not enough electronic check-in terminals at some precincts. But the official attributed most of the long lines to heavy turnout, saying the overall process was going smoothly.

An Emory University professor told WSB that as many as 1.5 million people could cast ballots in the GOP and Democratic contests.

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In Tennessee, election officials were expecting problems because of an unusually long Republican ticket, WSMV-TV in Nashville reported. The GOP ballot was five pages long because it contains the names of each delegate. The Democratic ballot was one page long. Also, the state's election coordinator said he was concerned a storm front moving toward western Tennessee could bring high wind, hail and tornadoes, the station reported.

In New Jersey, voters at some precincts arrived at polling stations and were told they were registered as being from a different party. A state election official said it was unclear how many voters may have been turned away, if any -- but said the problem was not widespread. The official said affected voters were given provisional ballots. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Ted Rowlands contributed to this report.

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