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U.S. Voters Head To The Polls

2 November 2004 -- Americans are going to the polls today in one of the most closely fought presidential elections in decades.

The latest opinion polls have shown the race between President George W. Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry to be a tie.

Analysts say voter turnout is likely to be a deciding factor in who wins.

Bush flew to six states yesterday in a final attempt to persuade undecided voters. At a rally in the state of New Mexico, Bush appealed for the votes of his fellow Republicans as well of independents and Democrats.

"And I'm asking you to get your friends and neighbors to go to the polls -- turn out our fellow Republicans, wise independents, and discerning Democrats," Bush said.

Bush is due later today to vote in his home state of Texas.

Kerry, who was to return to his home city of Boston to cast his vote, visited four states yesterday. He told supporters at a final rally in the city of Cleveland that "the outcome of this race is in your hands, and that's where it belongs."

The first votes came from the New Hampshire community of Hart's Location, where 16 voters picked Bush and 14 chose Kerry. Minutes later in Dixville Notch, also in New Hampshire, the 26 registered voters split 19 for Bush and seven for Kerry.

Experts say more than 100 million Americans are expected to cast votes in the election, which will also include balloting for 34 members of the U.S. Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

Amid concerns about possible electoral irregularities, the Republican and Democratic parties have each hired thousands of lawyers to monitor polling places.

Some 90 observers from the OSCE, the Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe, are being deployed to monitor the voting in a number of states.