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Early today, Senator Barack Obama urged voters to head to the polls despite predictions of rain in many northeastern cities. And at 7:30 a.m., CST, Obama and his family cast their own votes. Obama greeted reporters in the traveling press pool that includes ESSENCE magazine, saying “I feel great and it was fun. I got a chance to vote with my daughters. You know, the journey ends, but voting with my daughters, that was a big deal. I noticed that Michelle took a long time though. I had to check to see who she was voting for.”  

As nearly every survey declared him the winner, Obama continued ripping through the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina, telling voters that despite his having a strong lead in many polls, they could not let up. Monday night at Obama’s final rally in a 21-month blitz, before a sea of 90,000 in Manassas Park, Virginia, the presidential candidate urged voters not to be complacent.

Experts expect more than 100 million voters to cast their ballots. One Obama official told ESSENCE that the Obama staff has been receiving calls from across the country saying that lines are extremely long. And despite his being ahead in the polls, the senator is heading to Indiana for an eleventh-hour  pitch to capture voters in the traditionally red state.

Monday night, standing in the rain in Charlotte, North Carolina, Obama started his speech with a comment about his beloved grandmother, who had died earlier in the day. “It’s a little bit of a bittersweet time for me…. Some of you have heard that my grandmother, who helped raise me, passed away this morning. Look, she is gone home and passed away peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side. So there is great joy and tears. I won’t talk about it too long,” he said, catching himself and wiping his eyes, “because it’s hard to talk about it.”

Just before taking to the stage in Charlotte, Obama made one campaign office drop-in where he shook hands and posed for pictures with volunteers. He even made a few phone calls to ask voters to please go to the polls on Tuesday. He made no statement to reporters about his grandmother’s passing. Instead, he looked upbeat and energetic. But at one point while he was working the phones, the person on the other end must have mentioned home health-care issues. Obama turned his back to reporters and said to the person on the phone, “Obviously this is happening in my own family…. My grandmother stayed at home until recently.” At that point, his spirits deflated. Looking sad and somber, he put down the phone.       

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