JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lines began forming early at polling places around the country Tuesday as voters turned out for a close election that could be decided by razor-thin margins in key states.
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Along the First Coast, polls opened at 7 a.m. Wait times have varied widely so far depending on the precinct and time of day.
Around 11:30am, the wait was only about five minutes at Southside Baptist Church on Tiger Hole Road when a First Coast News reporter checked, despite a nearly full parking lot.
Voter Emily Richard Carpenter said it was a different story at Bartram Park. She said the line there was an hour long this morning, with several people cutting to the front.
First Coast News Facebook fan Laura Schnoor Warwin reported a five minute wait Tuesday morning in St. Johns County at Our Lady Star of the Sea Chnurch on A1A.
LaQuanda Paschal wrote to First Coast News Tuesday to tell us students at Nathan B. Forrest High School are learning civics on Election Day by voting in the N.B. Forrest Presidential Election. Each student received a ballot to vote for president and vice president in the school's mock election.
Similar stories are being repeated around the country.
In Virginia, about 75 people stood in line outside a polling auditorium in Alexandria near Washington, D.C. Voting was quick and the line moved fast.
Rainy Hamilton, Jr., 56, of Detroit stood in line to vote for almost two hours Tuesday morning, the longest it has ever taken him to vote. But he said he didn't mind one bit.
Hamilton viewed the approximately 200 people waiting in line as a positive sign.
"I was hoping there would be a wait," Hamilton, an architect said. "It means people are excited. I'm excited because I hope it means President Obama will be re-elected and I'm glad because people are voting."
Poll workers around Greenville County, S.C., were struggling to process heavy turnout and long lines led to voter confusion for at least one polling place, said Conway Belangia, county elections director.
Belangia said poll workers at a high school were checking voter registrations at a faster pace than their counterparts could process voters through voting machines.
In Dixville Notch, N.H., one of two tiny New Hampshire villages that get to cast the first votes of the presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney tied with five votes each - something that has never happened before.
"I'm bewildered, that's the best way to describe my reaction," said voter Peter Johnson, adding he didn't think that Obama would get that many votes.
David Heit, 26, of Denver, woke up at 6:30 a.m. to make the short walk to the First Unitarian Church to cast his ballot for Obama. Ten minutes before the polls opened there were a few people gathering to vote there.
Heit, who works at an after-school program for the Boys and Girls Club, said he's supporting Obama because of his health care and tax policies as well as his support of the Federal Pell Grant program.
"I'm voting to move my country continually in the right direction," he said. "I'm voting to make sure everyone has their right to get health care, to make sure women have their rights to health care and abortion."
A few miles outside of Raleigh, N.C., voters streamed into the Wake County Firearms Education & Training Center to cast ballots. Pat Crosswhite doesn't think Obama deserves four more years.
"I think what he started is terrible," said Crosswhite, who does voice-overs for television commercials. "I don't want him to finish it."
Both campaigns face a series of Election Day worries that have already begun to bubble to the surface.
Ranging from long lines at polling places to disputes over voter identification, Tuesday's vote is already being disputed in some locations.
Both campaigns have assembled legal teams to leap into action at any hint of voting irregularities, like voting machine malfunctions, allegations of voter intimidation and challenges to the legitimacy of absentee and "provisional" votes.
On Sunday, a Florida judge extended early-voting hours in Orange County - a key swing region of a prized battleground state - after Democrats sued to provide more time for long lines of people trying to cast votes.
First Coast News, USA Today