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The two main candidates running in the US presidential election have made last minute visits to the key battleground states as voters go to the polls.
 
President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, stopped off in Des Moines in the swing state of Iowa before returning to Chicago, their political heartland.

> euronews US election night coverage
 
Republican Mitt Romney criss-crossed the east coast yesterday, making visits to Florida, Virginia and New Hampshire.

The contest looks likely to be decided in just a handful of these key states. US states are attributed electoral votes according to their population from California, the most populous, with 55 electoral votes and states with smaller populations having just three. Many analysts predict Ohio, with its 18 electoral votes, will be the crucial swing state and where Obama is very narrowly ahead in the latest polls.

See our interactive map of electoral states
 
Ohio is home to more than 800,000 automotive jobs and industry watchers credit the president with saving many of them when he agreed to bail out General Motors and Chrysler three years ago. Romney opposed the plan.
 
As well as choosing a new commander in chief, voters will decide who will sit in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Two tiny towns in the US state of New Hampshire became the first to vote on election day.

The polls opened at midnight at Hart’s Location in White Mountain National Forest and in the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, where 24-year-old Tanner Tillotson was the first of ten registered voters to cast his ballot.

“It’s a little exhilarating, a little intimidating. It’s actually the second time I have had the honour of being the first in the nation to vote. I love the Dixville Notch tradition, I really hope it’s an inspiration for people to see the small town voting process. I hope it shows people the importance of getting out there and making your say heard,” said Tillotson.

The tradition of being the first town to vote was begun in Hart’s Location in 1948 so that railway workers could participate in the polls without taking leave. Dixville Notch started midnight voting 12 years later.

EJ Powers, manager of the resort which was turned into a polling station for the election said: “We take voting seriously here in New Hampshire and particularly we take vote seriously here in Dixville Notch. Since 1960 Dixville Notch is the first area in the country to cast their ballot for the presidential primary but also for the general election”.

Within 43 seconds, all 10 voters in Dixville Notch had made their choice. In perhaps a sign of the day that lies ahead, Obama and Romney each won five votes. In 2008, Obama won a clear victory.

In Hart’s Location, Obama won 23 of the 33 votes in Tuesday’s vote.

See below: electing the US president

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