Eager voters lined up at polling stations around the tri-state area Tuesday, ready to cast ballots in local elections and the presidential contest between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
In New York, balloting stations opened at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 9 p.m. In New Jersey and Connecticut, voters began at 6 a.m. and the polling stations are open until 8 p.m.
Long lines have been reported at polling places from Brooklyn to Buffalo, and in many places, voters said they expected to wait anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. In New York City, people began waiting in line as early as 4 a.m.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cast his ballot early Tuesday, saying he waited in line for about 45 minutes. He said the crowds were proof of "democracy at work." He wouldn't say who he voted for, however.
If you registered to vote for the first time via mail, you may be asked to provide identification at the polls. If you don't have a driver's license, you can also present a copy of a current utility bill, a valid photo ID, a bank statement or any government document that shows your name and address.
New York Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez-Rivera confirmed that the turnout was heavy on Tuesday morning. She says the city has 34,000 workers at 1,371 polling places.
In New York state, Republicans are counting on some of their most veteran senators in tough elections to maintain the GOP's control of the New York Senate. Democrats are banking on voters' overall disdain for the Legislature and more than 40 years of Republican control of the Senate to overturn a one-vote majority. Democrats are also counting on a big turnout from Obama.
Whether Republicans keep their only power base in Albany will depend on the outcome of races from Buffalo to Long Island. The closest contests include one for the 3rd district in Suffolk County. Republican Sen. Caesar Trunzo faces Democrat Brian Foley. And in the 15th district in Queens, Republican Sen. Serphin Maltese faces Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr.
New Jersey has 15 electoral votes at stake in the presidential race. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry the state was George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine read a newspaper while he waited in line outside his precinct in Hoboken Tuesday.
Statewide, voters will decide whether incumbent Democrat Frank Lautenberg or Republican Dick Zimmer will represent the state in the U.S. Senate.
There also are two ballot questions statewide and voters will elect members of the House of Representatives.
A record 5.4 million residents are registered to vote in New Jersey. Seventy-three percent turned out for the last presidential election.
Meantime, in Connecticut, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz says she expects as many as 90 percent of state voters will cast ballots.
Bysiewicz says some 300,000 new voters have registered since the first the year, pushing voter rolls to the highest in Connecticut history.
The state is using optical scan voting machines and the weather is expected to be relatively mild with no rain in the forecast.
In the 2004 presidential election, nearly 79 percent of eligible voters in Connecticut went to the polls.