Washington, US | Xinhua | Voters in major cities along the east coast of the United States started to cast their ballots early Tuesday, as polls continue to open across the country to decide the presidency.
As early as 06:00 ET (1100 GMT), voters began to enter polling stations in major cities in a number of states, including Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Maine, following early-morning voting in the northeastern state of New Hampshire which kicked off Election Day.
In Dixville Notch and Millsfield, two small towns in New Hampshire, voters chose their preferred candidates for U.S. president and New Hampshire governor, as well as federal and state legislative seats in the midnight voting, a tradition dating back to 1960.
In the makeshift “Ballot Room” at Dixville Notch’s Balsams Resort, Les Otten, one of the only five local registered voters, cast the first ballot.
Otten, identifying himself as “a lifelong Republican,” said that he voted for Democratic presidential nominee and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is challenging sitting President Donald Trump.
“I don’t agree with him on a lot of issues,” Otten said of Biden in a video posted on Twitter before his vote. “But I believe it’s time to find what unites us as opposed to what divides us.”
In Dixville Notch, the other four votes also went to Biden, while residents in Millsfield voted 16 to 5 in favor of Trump.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, more than 100 million eligible voters have cast their in-person or mail-in ballots as of 06:00 ET (1100 GMT), accounting for over two-thirds of 2016’s total.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Biden is leading Trump by 6.7 percentage points nationally, but only by 2.8 percentage points in top battleground states, including Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona.
Trump made campaign stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin on Monday, while Biden traveled to Ohio in the day and Pennsylvania on Election Eve.
Since U.S. states have different rules on when they are allowed to start counting mail-in ballots, which are at record-high volumes this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and require more time to process than those cast in person, election officials and experts said that the country should not expect the winner to be announced as soon as in previous years.
Besides the Trump-Biden race, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate will be in play on Tuesday. More than a dozen state and territorial governorships, among many other state and local posts, will also be contested.
The 2020 elections, including presidential and congressional races, come as the country is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 9.3 million cases and more than 231,000 deaths reported as of 06:25 ET Tuesday (1125 GMT), both figures the highest in the world.
Moreover, many voters are worried by the reality of an increasingly divided nation suffering from bitter partisan fights, violent racial conflicts and worsening social injustice.