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Just like nationally, "change" is operative word for Keys voters

Throughout the 2008 election season, the word "change" has been uttered more than perhaps any other.

And Tuesday at polling sites throughout the Keys, the word, or at least the sentiment, kept coming.

"It's a day where everybody gets to make their vote count. Whatever we might think, we all get our one vote," said Jay Wetzel, voting at Old City Hall in Key West. "A lot of us are exhausted by the last eight years. I'd rather have somebody new than somebody old a lot of times. Things are changing anyway, whether they seem to be or not."

"This is an historic election. How could you not want to vote in this one?" said Ivette Coole, after casting her ballot at Precinct 27 in Tavernier.

"It's exciting. There's a real buzz," said Coole, a proud Barack Obama supporter. "People are fed up after the last eight years."

Kevin Pease, voting at Kirk of the Keys Presbyterian Church in Marathon, said he voted for Obama. Why?

"A change in politics.... I don't like the way the country was moving and Barack wanted to take us in another direction."

"We need serious change and this is the time to put your energy into politics," said Rebecca Bennett, voting at the Key West Fire Department on North Roosevelt Boulevard for, among others, Democrats Annette Taddeo and Heather Carruthers, who were running for Congress and County Commission, respectively. "When I compared the alternatives, I'm in much more agreement with their policies."

Back at Precinct 27 in Tavernier, Kellie Pardo of Tavernier said, "Our votes in Florida usually don't count for much but if we get enough people out, this time they will. I'm still irked and a little bitter they didn't count our votes in the [Democratic presidential] primary."

First-time voter Patrick Owens, 20, of Marathon said he voted for Obama but also said any change would be good.

"Mostly economic, that's really the prevailing factor. This election lasted forever, almost two years, but it seems like the stressors in the beginning that were against Obama have faded away when we reached the financial sector collapsing," he said.

"McCain would have brought change, too, and I have a lot of respect for him as an American hero. I tell everyone that all four of them -- Palin, McCain, Biden and Obama -- are all great Americans. I just think it was the wrong time for McCain."

Owens said he believes the electorate was electric this year because "the age factor was a big thing for Obama, getting all these young people out to vote."|Nicole Valledor, a senior at Coral Shores High School, spent Tuesday as a volunteer poll worker as a civics project.

"It's been pretty cool seeing all these people come in to vote," she said. "I just missed being able to vote by a couple months. Next time for sure."

Key Wester Paul Loggins said he came out to vote against Amendment 2, which some have dubbed the anti-gay-marriage amendment.

"I'm here to vote against something. I don't like our government interfering with private lives," he said.

Voting was heavy throughout the day.

At the Tavernier Elks Lodge, a crowd of around 40 people stood in line before the doors opened at 7 a.m. It cleared out pretty soon but lines started forming again around 9.

The same was true at the American Legion in Marathon. About two dozen were in line there before 7 a.m.

At that precinct, No. 18, there was a minor glitch with the optical scan machine that accepts ballots. For some reason, it wasn't accepting ballots and a long line resulted. But after about 20 minutes and some tweaking by elections officials, the machine began to work smoothly.

Also at Precinct 18, attorney Dave Kirwan was monitoring the voting process for the state Democratic party. He said he didn't know if all Keys precincts were staffed by attorneys for the Democrats.

Keynoter staff members Sean Kinney, Ryan McCarthy, Kevin Wadlow and Larry Kahn contributed to this story.