Washington: As tens of millions of Americans voted Tuesday in what promises to be a cliffhanger, President Barack Obama appeared to have a slight edge in polls over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The first daylight polls opened in Vermont, kicking off voting across the eastern United States and parts of the Midwest as dawn broke. Several locations in Vermont opened their polls as early as at 5 am, while most others opened an hour later.
At least 120 million of the 169 million voters are expected to choose between giving Obama a second term or replacing him with Romney, but turnout will be crucial in the tight race that has cost the rival campaigns running over the last two years $1 billion apiece.
Long lines and glitches greeted voters at several places from Florida to Virginia as technologically advanced America began voting. In scenes rarely witnessed back home in emerging India, voters waited hours on end at places.
Lines stretched out the door of polling sites in Florida where voters were confronted with the longest ballot in their history asking them to vote on 11 proposed amendments to the state constitution as well.
As many as 30 million voters have already cast their ballots, with more than 30 states allowing either absentee voting or in-person early voting.
Obama has already voted in his hometown of Chicago, becoming the first sitting presidential candidate ever to vote early. Romney cast his own ballot in Belmont, Massachusetts, shortly before 9 am local time.
Also up for election Tuesday are 11 state governors, 33 seats in the 100-member US Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Five Indian Americans, four Democrats and one Republican, are among the contestants for the Congress.
Republicans are expected to keep control of the House, while Democrats were tipped to do the same in the Senate.
Taking no chances, both Obama and Romney and their key campaigners spent the final hours leading to Tuesday`s poll dashing across electoral battlegrounds in Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia and New Hampshire.
Romney is still on the campaign trail on Election Day adding stops in Democratic-heavy Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Seven of the eight national polls released since Sunday indicate the race for the White House is not only in a dead heat nationally, but also in the key battleground states that will decide the next tenant of the White House, according to CNN.
But national polls by Washington Post/ABC News and the Pew Research Centre both give Obama a three-point edge over his rival.
In view of the expected close race, both sides have readied legal teams for possible legal fights, especially in the critical battleground state of Ohio.