WASHINGTON - 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.
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."
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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.