Voters Head to the Polls in 2012 US Presidential Election

Posted November 6th, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Voters across the U.S. are heading to the polls Tuesday, to decide whether to re-elect President Barack Obama or pick a new American leader for the next four years, Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

The national presidential election is nearing the finish line, but the outcome is uncertain. After a year-and-a-half of campaigning, three debates and thousands of televised campaign ads, nationwide pre-election surveys show the two candidates in a virtual deadlock.

But the surveys also show Mr. Obama with a slight edge in a handful of key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome. U.S. presidential election campaigns are not decided by the national popular vote, but rather by a two-century-old electoral college system in which each of the 50 states' influence on the outcome is roughly equivalent to its population.

Each candidate needs at least 270 of the available 538 electoral votes to win the election.

In addition to the presidential contest, voters are electing all 435 members of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress, and 33 of the 100 members of the Senate. Analysts generally say Republicans will continue to hold their majority in the House, while the president's Democratic party could maintain its slim majority in the Senate.

Millions of Americans have already cast ballots in early voting over the last month. But the vast majority of the electorate will head to schools, churches, firehouses and other polling places across the country on Election Day.

Mr. Obama voted a few days ago in his home city of Chicago, Illinois, and plans to spend Tuesday there. He is taping interviews for broadcast in key states and also playing basketball with friends, one of his Election Day traditions.

Mr. Romney, a one-time venture capitalist, voted Tuesday morning in Massachusetts, the northeastern state he once governed but where Mr. Obama is expected to win easily.

The Republican contender then plans to continue campaigning. He is heading to the closely contested state of Ohio in the central part of the country and to neighboring Pennsylvania, a state long thought to be safely in Mr. Obama's grasp but one where Mr. Romney hopes to spring an upset.

President Obama and Mr. Romney dashed across several key battleground states Monday in a final effort to sway any remaining undecided voters.

Mr. Obama made campaign stops in Wisconsin and Ohio, before holding a final rally in Iowa, the state that gave him his first primary victory in his historic 2008 White House campaign. The Democratic incumbent touted his accomplishments during his presidency, including the bailout of the U.S. auto industry and the killing of Osama bin Laden, but said he needed another term to complete his agenda.

Mr. Romney held a rousing late-night rally in New Hampshire, where he launched his campaign more than a year ago, after events in Florida, Virginia and Ohio. The former Massachusetts governor said his record as both a successful businessman and politician shows he, not Mr. Obama, would bring about real change for the nation.

Voters in the small New Hampshire towns of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location cast their ballots at midnight Tuesday, keeping with tradition in being the first locations in the nation to vote on Election Day. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney tied at five votes each in Dixville Notch. In Hart's Location, the president won 23 votes while Mr. Romney finished with nine.