Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama joined voters eager to cast ballots on Tuesday before making one last pitch for supporters to turn out for their historic presidential contest.
With voters standing in line at polling places around the country, many people didn't need a nudge.
"I'm stoked. This is a historic event," said Andrew Lind, a 28-year-old underwriter from Ventura, Calif., who wore a green Obama T-shirt.
Obama, accompanied by his wife and two daughters, turned in his ballot at his Chicago neighborhood precinct – "I voted," he told reporters, holding up a validation slip – and then headed to neighboring Indiana for a last-minute speech intended to prompt as many Democrats and independents as possible to vote in the Republican swing state.
"The journey ends," Obama told reporters, "but voting with my daughters, that was a big deal."
In Phoenix, McCain cast a ballot at a church near his condominium before preparing to fly to Colorado and New Mexico, two battleground states he would likely need to score an upset victory. He gave supporters a thumbs-up sign and was in and out of the polling place within minutes.
"Nobody knows what the voter turnout's going to be," McCain told "Good Morning America" on ABC in an interview hours before polls opened. "I'm very happy with where we are. We always do best when I'm a bit of an underdog."
The running mates were voting, too. Democrat Joe Biden, his mother, wife and daughter at his side, gave a thumbs-up after casting a ballot near his hometown of Wilmington, Del. He turned to his 91-year-old mother and joked, "Don't tell them who you voted for."
Republican Sarah Palin arrived early Tuesday morning in Anchorage, Alaska, to drive up to her tiny hometown of Wasilla to vote before returning to the airport for a flight to Phoenix to join McCain. She cast her ballot in the town's council chamber, where she had presided as Wasilla's mayor.
"Here in Alaska, where we've cleaned up the corruption and we've taken on some self-dealing and self-interests, we've been able to really put government back on the side of the people," Palin told reporters after voting. "I hope, pray, believe I'll be able to do that as vice president for everybody in America, helping to transform our national government, too."
McCain told CBS' "The Early Show" in an interview broadcast Tuesday, "I think these battleground states have now closed up, almost all of them, and I believe there's a good scenario where we can win."
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he was confident that new voters and young voters would fuel an enormous turnout to benefit the Illinois senator.
"We just want to make sure people turn out," Plouffe told "Today" on NBC. "We think we have enough votes around the country."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lost the nomination to Obama in the primary battle but campaigned for him after he received the Democratic nomination, voted with her husband, the former president, near their home in upstate New York. She told reporters, "I feel very good about what's going to happen today."
Waiting in line at polling places, voters appeared determined to have their moment after watching from the sidelines since the candidates were nominated by their parties more than two months ago.
"Either way it goes, we're either going to have the first female vice president or the first African-American president, and I think that's historic and wonderful that we are getting more diverse," said Danielle Ury, 27, who stood outside Cleveland's Pilgrim United Church of Christ.
At Herndon High School in northern Virginia, 51-year-old Jennifer Howard arrived an hour before the polls opened at 6 a.m. EST to be among the first to vote. She was fifth in a line that grew to more than 200 people by the time voting began.
"I knew the lines were going to be really long," Howard said.