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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Voters Take Over as Campaign Finishes

In schools and firehouses and community centers across the country, Americans streamed into polling stations Tuesday to vote for the next president of the United States, choosing between men with very different visions of the future in a race whose outcome experts said was too close to predict.

Trying to sway undecided voters in key areas, Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, and President George W. Bush, the Republican, spent Monday shuttling to events in Ohio and Florida and several other states considered crucial to the outcome. Bush ended Monday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he spent the night and voted at a local firehouse Tuesday morning.

"We'll see what the people say," Bush said after casting his vote, speaking to reporters with his wife, Laura, at his side. "Now is the time for the people to express their will."

Kerry was to vote in Boston, after spending the night in Wisconsin.

Terrorism and national security became overarching issues that Bush, especially, tried to turn to his advantage in the first presidential election after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Voter turnout was expected to be very large, perhaps surpassing the 105 million who voted in the 2000 election, or 51 percent of the voting-age population. This year, Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, told The Associated Press that he expected a turnout of 118 million to 121 million, or 58 percent to 60 percent of the electorate. Indeed, early turnout appeared steady and large, with lines forming at polling stations well before they opened.

In Cincinnati, a torrential rain did little to deter lines of voters waiting outside to enter polling places. Some had umbrellas, others just resigned themselves to getting drenched.

Even in the driving rain and while it was still dark, eager voters waited outside of the North Rosedale Park Community Center on the east side of Detroit.

In North Philadelphia, Valerie Morman, a legal secretary, walked to her polling place at St. Malachy School. "The last time I voted," she said, "was about 20 years ago," adding that she intended to vote for Kerry.

"I stayed home because I haven't felt like it counted," she explained of her attitude toward previous elections. "I have had a change of heart, and I think there are hundreds of thousands of others like me."

A poll by MTV and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement said that this year, young people were showing the highest interest in the presidential election since 1992.

William Galston, director of the center at the University of Maryland, told The Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska that nonpartisan voter-mobilization groups spent as much as $40 million this year to register young people.

One of the most successful groups, Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan group founded in 1990 to fight censorship in music and later expanded to promote young voting, has recorded 1.371 million new registrations of 18- to 30-year-olds nationwide, said spokesman Jay Strell.