WASHINGTON — Turnout appears to be high in many parts of the country, with long waits at some polling places as voters deliver their Election Day verdict.
More than 131 million people turned out to vote for president in 2008, shattering all previous records. This year, both Republican Mitt Romney and President Obama were counting on supporters to show up in high numbers — especially in the competitive states that will decide the victor.
Obama was hoping for robust turnout among minorities, a key component of his winning 2008 coalition, while Romney is looking for a strong showing among working-class white men, a group that has leaned his way in polls. ‘‘I’ve been waiting for four years to cast this vote,’’ said Robert Dan Perry, 64, as he cast his vote for Romney in Zebulon, N.C.
Obama in particular seemed keenly aware that his electoral fate hinges on turnout. In the final days of the race, his campaign shifted gears from working to persuade undecided voters to imploring those already in his corner to make sure they vote.
‘‘We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win, but it’s going to depend ultimately on whether these votes turn out,’’ he said Tuesday morning during a visit to a campaign office near his South Side Chicago home.
Anecdotal reports from across the country suggested voters were enthusiastically making their voices heard. Long lines were reported from Michigan to Florida, from Nebraska to South Carolina.
In Virginia, election officials said statewide turnout would probably meet or exceed the 2008 presidential election. A handful of would-be voters in Alexandria gave up after waiting for two hours to reach the ballot box, according to a monitor.
In New Hampshire, David Scanlan, deputy secretary of state, said lines became unwieldy at some polling places in Manchester, Raymond, and Salem. State officials, including some from the attorney general’s office, were dispatched to help local poll watchers manage the crowds. Some lines in Nashua spilled out of the voting places as the polling closed. Some voters waited two hours in line.
In states such as Virginia and New Hampshire, the turnout was also pushed higher by close statewide races. Congressional races and the election for governor were all tightly contested in the Granite State. In Virginia, the open Senate seat pitting Democrat Tim Kaine against Republican George Allen was a marquee event.
Pennsylvania officials said they expected about 70 percent of the state’s nearly 8.5 million voters to turn out by the time polls closed. Even before polls opened on Election Day, more than 32 million people had cast their ballots, either by mail or in person, in 34 states and the District of Columbia. - GLOBE WIRES AND STAFF
Candidates converge on Cleveland
CLEVELAND — First, they came for the airwaves, flooding Ohio with political ads. Now, the presidential candidates are taking over the air.
Jets carrying Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan landed at Cleveland’s airport within 45 minutes of each other Tuesday morning, creating an unusual only-in-Ohio spectacle as the candidates made their final dash for votes in the critical Buckeye State.
Romney flew to Ohio to thank campaign volunteers after he voted in Belmont, Mass. His plane arrived first, pulling into an isolated corner of the tarmac. (Another aircraft carrying Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and aides wearing “Teamsters for Obama” jackets rolled past him.)
Biden arrived about 20 minutes later, at 11:35 a.m., in his US government jet, which parked several hundred feet away. The vice president’s visit had not been previously announced, leading to puzzlement when the plane landed. A Secret Service agent, asked who was aboard the airplane with a large American flag on it, helpfully confirmed that it was “someone from the US.”
Both men stayed on their aircraft while black Chevy Suburbans and nondescript white vans formed into motorcades. A third jet, carrying Representative Ryan, landed at 11:52 a.m. For a brief moment, three-fourths of the candidates on the major-party tickets were all stalled on the tarmac, like travelers waiting for the baggage carousel to start. President Obama stayed in his home state of Illinois.
Biden’s motorcade departed first, for a restaurant and a campaign stop. Ryan exited his plane a few moments later, walking up the stairs to Romney’s plane and spending a few minutes on the governor’s aircraft before both men emerged. At 12:12, they stepped into a black SUV, and the GOP motorcade sped off. - ALAN WIRZBICKI
Biden says this won’t be his last vote for himself
Before the 2012 presidential election was even decided, Vice President Joe Biden kicked off an early round of speculation about 2016 when he said that he does not expect Tuesday to mark the last time he votes for himself.
Biden spoke briefly with reporters after casting a ballot in his home state of Delaware.
“I tell you what, you know, every time I do it — this is the eighth time that I’ve run statewide in the state of Delaware,” Biden said.
Then, asked if this would be the last time he would vote for himself, Biden grinned and replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
Biden, a former senator, ran for president in 2008 but dropped out early in the Democratic primary season.
He turns 70 on Nov. 20 and would be 74 on his Inauguration Day. - CALLUM BORCHERS