Down to the Wire: Voters go to the Polls wire reports

ATLANTA, Nov. 4, 2008 – Polls are open across the United States as voters line up to choose a new president and members of Congress. The last major preference polls showed Democrat Barack Obama with a significant advantage over Republican John McCain.

Tight margins in key Presidential, U.S. Senate and governor races remain in at least eight states.

Some polling stations in eastern states like New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania reported long lines of voters who gathered before dawn to cast ballots.

Election officials say they expect massive turnout on Election Day, and they are asking voters to be patient and brace for possible delays.

“Nearly all of Georgia’s 3,000 voting precincts opened this morning on time and without complication,” Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel said. “The agency’s Office of Inspector General quickly dispatched monitors or technicians to assist poll managers in three precincts that did not open on time, and wait times are averaging from ‘no wait’ to just under an hour statewide. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Office has received no complaints regarding the photo ID requirement.”

More than 15,000 poll workers are assisting county election officials and precinct managers today at Georgia’s 3,000 voting precincts. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Office of Inspector General and the Kennesaw State University Center for Election Systems deployed over 150 election monitors, including investigators and technicians, to serve as rapid responders to assist the counties and voters with issues or questions.

Handel also credited the record-setting early voting turnout for easing pressures so far at the precincts today. Over 2 million Georgians voted during the early voting period.

Final national polls showed the presidential contest was narrowing, but Obama held a comfortable lead of between five and 11 points.

Democrats also are expected to make gains in Congressional voting, which includes all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 in the 100 member Senate.

Most projections have Democrats expanding their current 36 seat House advantage by at least 20. Potential losses could give Democrats their strongest majority in 18 years, putting Republicans far below their current 199 seat minority.

Democrats would like to widen their current narrow 51-49 margin of control in the Senate to or near a 60-seat majority that could make it easier to win votes on legislation.

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