— U.S. voters are casting ballots in a close presidential contest between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.
After more than a year of intense focus on the two candidates, the spotlight is now on American voters who are streaming to the polls across the country to choose their president, other elected representatives and referendum questions on local issues.
At the Clara Barton Community Center in Cabin John, Maryland, a couple of hundred voters stood in line to vote when the polls opened before dawn on a frosty morning.
African-American voter Joe Harris said he feels good about casting his ballot.
"Oh, it is great! I mean it is a privilege that we fought for for a long time, and we got it, and we got to use it," Harris said.
Bob Auletta makes his way into a polling place at Toms River East High School to vote on Election Day in Toms River, New Jersey, November 6, 2012.
Friends and campaign workers line the highway across from the voting headquarters in Bronson, Florida, November 6, 2012.
Fire house in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, becomes the only voting facility for residents who usually have four during general elections , all due to Superstorm Sandy, November 6, 2012. (Celia Mendoza/VOA)
President Barack Obama calls Wisconsin volunteers as he visits a campaign office call center the morning of the 2012 election in Chicago, November 6, 2012.
Poll workers Eva Prenga, right, Roxanne Blancero, center, and Carole Sevchuk try to start an optical scanner voting machine in the cold and dark at a polling station in a tent in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, New York, November 6, 2012. The original polling site, a school, was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and wife Ann Romney vote in Belmont, Massachusetts, November 6, 2012.
Voters line up outside a polling station at Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, in Prince William County, Virginia, November 6, 2012. (David Byrd/VOA)
Lindsay Reiter votes while holding her 5-month-old daughter, Savannah, at an elementary school in Bowling Green, Ohio, November 6, 2012.
People prepare to cast their ballots inside a polling station just after midnight on November 6, 2012 in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the very first voting to take place in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
Ballots are removed from the ballot box to be counted in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, November 6, 2012, as they cast the first Election Day votes in the nation.
The votes sheet shows the results from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, November 6, 2012 after residents cast the first Election Day votes in the nation. After 43 seconds of voting.
U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) and his wife Ann Romney (R) at a rally late November 5, 2012, at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at his last campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, November 5, 2012.
People vote early at a polling station in Chicago, Illinois, November 5, 2012. (Ramon Taylor/VOA)
Luke Rowe said this election has special meaning for him.
"Well it is my first time voting. I am half German and I got my citizenship, and I am very excited to vote for my first time," Rowe said. "It is making me feel old and responsible now, and I am glad I am making such a big decision and seeing so many people here already so early."
Bennett Ross said his top concern is the economy.
"Economic, trying to get the economy back, trying to get the government in good financial shape, with the deficits and debt that we are running," said Ross. "It is a serious time for our country and somebody has got to do something about it."
Watch related video of Virginia voters
Last minute campaigning
President Barack Obama finished his 2012 campaign with a late-night rally in Des Moines, Iowa.
"When you step into that voting booth tomorrow, it is just a remarkable thing, the way our democracy works," Obama said. "And at a certain point, all this effort and all these campaign rallies, and then it just comes down to each of us."
Former Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke to a large crowd in New Hampshire.
"Now perhaps some of your friends and family have not yet made up their mind who to vote for, I would like you to make sure and talk to them and see if you can convince them to come join us, ask them to look beyond the speeches and the attacks and all the ads, and to look to the record," said Romney.
In addition to the presidential race, 33 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election. About 30 million Americans have already cast ballots in early voting in several states.
President Obama is in his home town of Chicago for election day, playing a game of basketball with friends, and doing several radio and television interviews. Obama took advantage of early voting.
In a surprise, Romney announced he is voting near his home in Belmont, Massachusetts in the morning, before heading to Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for events to thank campaign workers.