The grandmother of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has died from cancer.

Obama announced the death of long-ailing 86-year-old Madelyn Dunham Monday, just one day before voters went to the polls to elect a new president.

The Democratic candidate cried at a rally in North Carolina Monday when talking about the death of his grandmother, who helped raise him.

Obama suspended his campaign for two days last month to visit Dunham in the U.S. Pacific island state of Hawaii.  He said he feared she might not survive to see the historic election. 

But although she did not live to see the outcome, Dunham's vote - an absentee ballot - will count.

Obama faces Republican Senator John McCain in the election Tuesday.