Mitt Romney suspended his presidential bid at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., but he won the straw vote among activists there anyway.
In results posted yesterday on the conference website, Romney won 35 percent to John McCain's 34 percent. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul each won 12 percent.
It appears that if he hadn't withdrawn on Thursday, the former Massachusetts governor would have won by an even bigger margin. Three-fourths of the 1,558 ballots were turned in after his speech - and his support dropped from 44 percent in pre-speech ballots to 32 percent afterward.
Ironically, however, that conservative support didn't translate strongly enough in primaries and caucuses to keep Romney in the race. He dropped out after Super Tuesday's results left him about 400 delegates behind McCain.
Secretary of State Jennifer L. Brunner, a Democrat, wants to eliminate touch-screen machines for the November election from the 53 counties that still use them and install optical scan machines to provide a paper trail.
Because the conversion cannot be completed in time for the primary in most counties, Brunner ordered the printing of paper ballots as an interim step.
"The paper ballots are not only going to provide a voter alternative for those who prefer not to use touch-screen machines, but they may also alleviate long lines," Brunner said. "We expect a much higher than normal turnout in the primary."
But some local officials contend the paper ballots are unnecessary and have gone to court to fight the requirement.
"We felt it was a waste of taxpayer money because we have confidence in our system," said David Phillips, the county prosecutor in Union County, who estimated the paper ballot initiative would cost his county $68,000. He argued that state law put the choice of voting systems in the hands of county officials.
Ohio is scrambling to correct serious flaws in its voting systems that were uncovered in a study released in December. Touch-screen machines were found to be vulnerable to hackers using devices as rudimentary as magnets and personal digital assistants, and security measures were found to be inadequate to prevent fraud.
"I support Barack Obama because he is the kind of leader America needs right now. By taking on special interests and uniting our country around a common purpose, he will change politics in Washington," Cohen said in a statement issued by the Obama camp. "When Barack Obama is president, we will finally have a government that works for all Americans."
Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, ended his second bid for president on Jan. 30. Despite entreaties from both Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, he has not thrown his support to either.