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Voters Go to Polls in Key Democratic Primaries

Voters are going to the polls in key Democratic primaries in North Carolina and Indiana Tuesday to cast their ballots for Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama. As the polls opened, there were signs of record turnout for the Democratic Party in both states, with Clinton and Obama locked in an epic battle for the nomination. For the Republican Party, Senator John McCain is already the presumptive nominee, and can watch comfortably from the sidelines. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama is hoping to win both North Carolina and Indiana, to deliver a knockout blow to Senator Clinton's "never-give-up" campaign. He ended a full day of campaigning in both states Monday night with a rainy get-out the vote rally in Indianapolis, where he got a little help from singer Stevie Wonder.

Senator Obama, who wants to become America's first African-American president, appealed to voters in Indiana, which borders his home state of Illinois.

"I'm telling you Indiana, it is within our grasp, but we have got to go and seize this moment," he said. "Yes we can!"

Opinion polls indicate that Senator Clinton has a slight lead in the state. Polls show that Obama is still favored to win North Carolina, but Clinton has cut into his lead in the southern state.

More than half a million people have cast early ballots in North Carolina, indicating a very high turnout is likely. In Indiana, more than 200,000 new voters were added to voter registration rolls, and more than 160,000 people cast their votes early.

Senator Clinton is seeking to become the first woman president in the United States, and needs a win in Indiana to keep her campaign going. She also kept up her appeal to voters at rallies into the early morning hours Tuesday.

"If you will go and vote for me tomorrow, I will never forget you," she said.

The former first lady is hoping to shake up the Democratic race by winning both Indiana and North Carolina. Both candidates are trying to convince "superdelegates," party officials and elected office holders who are free to vote as they please for the Democratic nominee at the party convention, that they are the best person to take on Senator John McCain in the general election in November.

Obama has a lead in overall pledged delegates, the popular vote and the number of states won. But both he and Clinton are dependent on the support of superdelegates to clinch their party's nomination.