Across the United States, Americans are casting ballots that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Congress. President Bush was among the early voters in Crawford, Texas.

After a hectic final week of campaigning, the president cast his vote quietly in a community fire station not far from his Texas ranch.

As he walked out of the low, white building he stopped to autograph a few campaign posters and chat briefly with neighbors and a waiting group of reporters.

"I hope people vote," he said, adding "I am encouraging all people across this country to vote."

Voter turnout is expected to be crucial in this election, where many races are extremely close. A few votes could determine which party controls Congress.

Democrats narrowly hold power in the Senate, while Republicans have a slim majority in the House. Traditionally, the party in power at the White House loses seats in elections held midway through a president's first term in office. But President Bush is hoping to defy history with Republican gains.

He has also campaigned for gains at the state level. Thirty-six of the 50 states are also choosing governors on this election day.