TOLEDO, Ohio (Ma'an) -- Decision day for the United States presidential race arrived Tuesday, and in hours US citizens and the world will know who will occupy the White House for the coming four years.
Campaigning has come to an end, and it is now up to the people to have the final word, although about one-third of likely voters already cast their ballots during about a month of early voting.
All candidates and their campaign leaders can do now is await the results, and prepare their legal teams to monitor and follow up with any possible problems that may impede the voting process on election day. These teams can go to courts asking for extended voting if they can prove that voters faced obstacles, or identification troubles while they tried to cast their votes. Rules and regulations differ between states.
For example, in Florida, a key swing state, a state judge had to extend early voting hours in Orange county after the Democrats complained that voters had to wait in long lines to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, in New York and New Jersey, officials are trying to work out solutions for election-related logistical problems after the destruction caused by hurricane Sandy which hit the east cost leaving millions without power.
Here in Toledo, in northern Ohio, which experts expect to play a major role in deciding the new president, Ma'an visited a polling station Monday where there was a surprisingly small number of voters compared to the long ques Sunday at an early voting center in the same city.
Voters at an alternative polling site in Queens, New York (Reuters)
Voters said everything was going alright and they faced no mentionable problems. “I am a social worker, so I should vote for the Democrats,” said a woman who came with her husband to cast her vote.
A young man in his 20s named John approached Ma'an's reporter and asked “do you work here?” He turned out to be a volunteer working with a non-partisan group which monitors the election process.
"We are here to help people who may need help, and we give them fliers explaining how to vote and what identification documents they need," he told Ma'an.
John was also asking voters after they came out of the voting center whether or not they had faced any problems. “What are the possible problems?” I asked him.
“We try to make sure there is no discrimination against voters from different minorities, and that voters are not intimidated which is possible.
"As for political affiliation, there should be no problem because nobody can identify a voter as Democrat or Republican from their facial features, while it is easy to recognize from facial features that they belong to a certain ethnic group.”
With regard to the small numbers of voters around 10:30 a.m., John explained that it is usually more crowded in the early morning hours and after 5:00 p.m. because most people in downtown are from the working class and they have to cast their votes before they start work, or after.
He also explained that polling stations opened at 6:30 a.m. and would close at 7:30 p.m.
Asked about the expected turnout, he said it's expected to be lower than in 2008 because people are less enthusiastic, and the weather may have an impact too.
A study by Tom Hansford of the University of California-Merced studied voting data from 14 presidential elections and concluded turnout decreases by almost 1 percent per inch of rain.
General turnout in 2008 was 61.8 percent, while in swing states it was above 65 percent.
Back at the polling station in Toledo, signs said campaigning near the stations was forbidden.