Key states are tallying results in the historic U.S. presidential contest between Democrat Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain. Polling stations in several eastern states have closed. But the race is still too close to call in the key states of Ohio, Indiana and Virginia. Obama is projected to win Vermont with three electoral votes and McCain in Kentucky and West Virginia with a total of 13 electoral votes. Polling stations remain open in many states, and a huge voter turnout is reported nationwide. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.
Senators Obama and McCain have focused the final weeks of their long campaigns on winning closely-fought states such as Indiana, Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Each of the 50 U.S. states is allotted electoral votes depending on its population and congressional representation. The winning candidate must get at least 270 out of 538 electoral votes. U.S. voters do not directly elect the president, so a candidate can win more of the popular vote and still lose the election.
Polls show Obama with a solid lead nationally and in key states.
Obama made an appearance Tuesday at a union hall in Indiana, where he helped union members work the phones to turn out the vote. Voting in Illinois with his family, Obama said he may feel sentimental about the campaign's end, and joked about his wife's choice.
"You know, I'm sure I will tonight [feel sentimental] that is when the polls close, the journey ends," he said. "But voting with my daughters, that was a big deal. I noticed Michelle took a long time though, I had to check to see who she was voting for."
If he wins the election, Senator Obama at 47 would be the first African-American elected president, while Senator McCain, 72, would be the oldest candidate elected president, with Sarah Palin the first woman to be vice president.
Senator McCain is hoping to surprise the country with an upset victory. He voted in his home state of Arizona, where he is monitoring election results. Earlier Tuesday, he flew to Colorado where he kept up the fight to overcome a strong Obama showing in a traditionally Republican state.
"I feel the momentum, I feel it, and you feel it, and we're going to win this election," said McCain. "We're going to win it! And we're going to win it right here in the state of Colorado."
A more than seven percent increase in registrations since the last presidential election points to a potential record number of Americans participating, and long lines were reported at many polling stations.
Officials in New Jersey distributed paper ballots to some voters because of problems with electronic voting machines. Other areas encountered minor problems, but officials voiced no major concerns.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are also up for election Tuesday, with Democrats considered likely to win significant gains there. Republicans are defending 25 of 35 Senate seats at stake. Democrats are also hoping to widen their current razor-thin margin of control in the Senate.