US voters turn out in droves in historic election (Second Lead)

November 4th, 2008 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 4 (IANS) Democrat Barack Obama, with a decisive edge in opinion polls, joined early voters as Americans across the nation turned out in droves Tuesday to choose between him and his feisty Republican rival John McCain as their next president.At least 130 million of America’s 200 million voters are expected to cast their ballots to choose a successor to unpopular Republican President George W. Bush amidst a great economic crisis that has overshadowed all other concerns in this historic election.

An Obama victory as widely predicted will bring about a historic transformation on the US political scene by sending an African-American to the White House for the first time.

If McCain wins beating all odds, he too would make history as the oldest first-term president. A McCain win would also mean the first female vice president in the nation’s history.

Polls were already open across more than half the US straddling nine time zones by midday and TV stations showed long lines of voters in many places.

They will close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky at 4:30 a.m. IST and in the other 48 states and the capital of Washington in the following six hours.

Obama and his wife Michelle, voted side by side at Shoesmith Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois, as their daughters Sasha and Malia looked on. The couple took about 10 minutes to complete their ballots.

Secret Service agents were checking names off a list and using metal-detecting wands on some would-be voters as they entered the polling place, CNN said.

As the Obamas departed their polling station, his vice presidential running mate Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived at theirs-Tatnall School in Wilmington, Delaware-to cast their ballots.

Biden was scheduled to head to the battleground state of Virginia, where Obama campaigned Monday, before joining Obama in Chicago, where the Democratic candidates plan to watch election results roll in.

Obama’s schedule includes a stop in Indiana, where he plans to play basketball-something he’s done on past election days-before heading to a campaign stop in Indianapolis.

McCain, meanwhile, was scheduled to be in Phoenix, Arizona, late Tuesday morning, his campaign said. He will vote at Albright United Methodist Church before making quick visits to Grand Junction, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Colorado and New Mexico both voted for President Bush in 2004, but the latest polls have them leaning toward Obama.

On election eve, the 47-year-old Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, was favoured to win all the states Democrats captured in 2004, when President George Bush defeated Democratic nominee. John Kerry. That would give him 251 electoral votes.

He was leading or tied in several states won by Bush, giving him several paths to the 270 vote threshold such as victories in Ohio or Florida, or in a combination of smaller states.

McCain, meanwhile, must hold as many Bush states as possible while trying to capture a Democratic stronghold, such as Pennsylvania.

In the last day of campaigning Monday, McCain tried to turn the electoral math to his favour with a seven-state blitz through the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico and Nevada.

In a sign that he was still on the offensive, Obama spent his last day campaigning in states that have gone for the Republican candidate in recent elections-Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

Democrats, who now control the Senate 51-49 and the House of Representatives 235-199, are also hoping to win larger majorities in both chambers to put Obama firmly in the driver’s seat as he guides America on a new promised course.

All 435 House seats and 35 of the Senate’s 100 seats are up for election.

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