Ohio voters are once again in the national spotlight, as the state's primaries Tuesday take on added importance this year with Gov. John Kasich staking his presidential aspirations on winning his home state.
Kasich and other Republicans are hoping victories in the swing state can slow businessman Donald Trump's drive to the nomination.
On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hopes to repeat his primary upset of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in neighboring Michigan. Clinton defeated Barack Obama in Ohio in the 2008 presidential primary, but Sanders got a late potential boost from a ruling last week that 17-year-olds who turn 18 before the November election can vote Tuesday.
In Columbus, George Buttrick cast his ballot for Kasich, calling him a better choice and someone people can relate to.
"I think the biggest thing right now is to have someone who's not going to start a fight," said Buttrick, 76, who runs a collision repair shop.
Election officials said no major problems had been reported in the first hours of voting, which began at 6:30 a.m. Josh Eck, a spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, said several county boards expected fairly strong turnout by the time polls close at 7:30 p.m.
Vietnam veteran and Democrat William McMillen, 70, said he voted in Franklin County for Trump.
"He's a businessman," the part-time warehouse worker said. "America is a big business, and he could make money for us."
Democrat C. J. Leppert said she "held my nose" and voted for Kasich to try to keep Trump from winning, but she plans to vote as a Democrat in the fall.
Jennifer Becerra, 43, a fifth-grade teacher in Columbus, said she voted for Sanders because his views on America are what the country needs right now.
"He's in tune with the middle class, and he's wanting to push us forward, not bring us even further back," Becerra said.
Cuyahoga County elections director Pat McDonald said voting started a little slow on a gloomy day with intermittent rain, but he expected turnout to pick up.
A voter in that county, Charlotte Cousett, said she voted for Clinton and believes a woman should have a chance to be president.
"We work just as hard as men do," said the 67-year-old Democrat.
The state's U.S. Senate Democratic primary has national implications, too.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland, 74, is trying to turn back a challenge from Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, 31. Democrats have targeted Republican incumbent Rob Portman in their effort to regain a Senate majority, and the state's party leadership says Strickland has a better shot.
In western Ohio, the resignation last year of former House Speaker John Boehner set up a Republican free-for-all to succeed him in the seat he held since 1990. The field of 15 GOP candidates competing in unusual dual primaries includes two state legislators and a host of novices.
Ohio voters are also choosing nominees in other congressional districts to oppose incumbents and have to cast their ballots for Ohio Supreme Court and some legislative races.