Lines began forming early at polling places around
the country Tuesday as voters turned out for a close election that could
be decided by razor-thin margins in key states.
about 75 people stood in line outside a polling auditorium in Alexandria
near Washington, D.C. Voting was quick and the line moved fast.
Dixville Notch, N.H., one of two tiny New Hampshire villages that get
to cast the first votes of the presidential election, President Obama
and Mitt Romney tied with five votes each - something that has never
"I'm bewildered, that's the best way to describe
my reaction," said voter Peter Johnson, adding he didn't think that
Obama would get that many votes.
David Heit, 26, of Denver, woke
up at 6:30 a.m. to make the short walk to the First Unitarian Church to
cast his ballot for Obama. Ten minutes before the polls opened there
were a few people gathering to vote there.
Heit, who works at an
after-school program for the Boys and Girls Club, said he's supporting
Obama because of his health care and tax policies as well as his support
of the Federal Pell Grant program.
"I'm voting to move my country
continually in the right direction," he said. "I'm voting to make sure
everyone has their right to get health care, to make sure women have
their rights to health care and abortion."
A few miles outside of
Raleigh, N.C., voters streamed into the Wake County Firearms Education
& Training Center to cast ballots. Pat Crosswhite doesn't think
Obama deserves four more years.
"I think what he started is
terrible," said Crosswhite, who does voice-overs for television
commercials. "I don't want him to finish it."
Both campaigns face a series of Election Day worries that have already begun to bubble to the surface.
from long lines at polling places to disputes over voter
identification, Tuesday's vote is already being disputed in some
Both campaigns have assembled legal teams to leap into
action at any hint of voting irregularities, like voting machine
malfunctions, allegations of voter intimidation and challenges to the
legitimacy of absentee and "provisional" votes.
On Sunday, a
Florida judge extended early-voting hours in Orange County - a key swing
region of a prized battleground state - after Democrats sued to provide
more time for long lines of people trying to cast votes.
and New Jersey were still scrambling to resolve voting problems created
by Hurricane Sandy. New Jersey said it would expand online voting for
those whose polling places have been disrupted, a move New York election
officials rejected. New York has also had to relocate polling places,
which could create voting challenges.
Voters were taking special
election shuttles from storm-hit areas and voting by affidavit from any
polling place they could reach after officials put emergency measures in
Early turnout at dawn appeared high, despite the hurdles.
important because it's our day," said Agim Coma, a 25-year-old
construction worker who lost his apartment and car to the storm but was
first in line to vote in one New Jersey town. "No matter what happens -
hurricanes, tornadoes - it's our day to vote."
Suzanne Krause of
Great Neck, N.Y., lost power in the storm and rode out the week with
family on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
But on Tuesday, she
was headed back to Long Island to check on her house and to cast her
ballot, which she feels is important. Her community experienced lots of
fallen trees, she said.
"I'm going back now because I want to vote," said Krause, 66.
Pennsylvania and Florida - all critical swing states for the
presidential election - have faced pitched battles throughout the summer
over voter-identification laws. As late as last week, Ohio election
officials were issuing new rules for what ID is required and how the
voter's identification should be certified.
Jay Kumr, 29, of Baytree, Fla., was voting for the first time on Tuesday.
a look at the crowd, Kumr, owner of a preschool, arrived early at a
Methodist church to avoid a long line and was surprised at all the
people there to vote at 7:30 a.m.
"I like it, it is an interesting thing," she said of the race for president.
line to vote at the Central Christian Church near downtown Orlando
began forming at 6:30 a.m. and by 8 a.m. , as the queue of more than 100
people snaked around the building. When fat, cold raindrops began to
fall on the shorts-wearing Floridians, they stood fast.
Moore, 29, umbrella-less and wishing he'd brought his rain jacket
shrugged as umbrellas popped up around him. He said he'll vote "no
"The line's been consistent around the building since we opened," said poll deputy Richard Lamberty, 53.
have needed about 20 minutes to fill out the unusually long ballot and
have waited about an hour in line, he said. The precinct has more than
20 voting machines, he said.
Weather is a perennial concern,
particularly for Democrats, whose voters are considered less likely to
vote in bad weather. Tom Hansford, of the University of
California-Merced, studied voting data from 14 presidential elections
and concluded turnout decreases by almost 1% per inch of rain.
the legal and procedural challenges of Election Day, there are an array
of intangibles that could affect the outcome, particularly in a very
Ballot position, for instance. In Florida and
Wisconsin, state law requires that the presidential candidate of the
governor's party - Romney - be listed first.
And for 100 years, observers have noticed that candidates appearing first get a slight boost.
Krosnick, a social psychologist at Stanford University, says the effect
may be as large as 3 percentage points. From his studies of
presidential ballots, "I'm quite confident that made all the difference
in Florida" in 2000, he said.
In Colorado and Nevada, candidates
are listed alphabetically, which means Constitution Party candidate
Virgil Goode takes the first position. In Virginia, the order for major
parties is determined by lot (Republicans won).
In Jefferson, Wis., a steady stream of voters filed into City Hall.
Linder, 20, voted for the first time with her partner, Sheena Schultz,
22. Linder, a caregiver, voted for Obama "because he stood up for our
rights" as a couple.
Mark McQuin, 39, a project manager, also voted for Obama.
But afterward he said what many people Tuesday were thinking: "I'm ready for it to be over."
Judy Keen in Wisconsin; Chuck Raasch, Alexandria, Va.; Yamiche
Alcindor, Denver; Florida Today; Donna Leinwand Leger, Orlando; Gregory
Korte, Washington, D.C.; Melanie Eversley, New York; The Associated