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U.S. heads to polls in tight presidential race

  • Americans are at the polls to choose whether to re-elect Democratic President Barack Obama or give the job to Republican Mitt Romney.

    Polls opened at 7am EST on Tuesday.

    The voting brings an end to a race that began nearly two years ago and has cost more than $2 billion.

    Polls will begin closing in eastern states at 7pm EST and the winner could be known by midnight.

    Opinion polls indicate the race is neck and neck, although the incumbent holds a marginal lead in crucial swing states.

    National polls by Washington Post/ABC News and the Pew Research Center give Obama a three-point edge over Romney.

    As many as 30 million Americans have already cast their votes across some 30 states which allow either absentee voting or in-person early voting.

    Two political pundits predicting results in the swing states both foresee a win for Obama. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball gives Obama 290 electoral college votes, 20 more than the 270 required to win. Meanwhile, Nate Silver at the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog believes Obama will 307 votes.

    Those backing Romney include Dick Morris, a former Democrat, who foresees Mitt Romney picking up 325 electoral college votes. George Will of the Washington Post, puts Romney at 321.

    Also on Tuesday's ballot are several state governors, one third of the seats in the 100-member US Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

    Republicans are expected to keep control of the House while Democrats are tipped to do the same in the Senate.