Voters head to the polls across Carolinas

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eyewitness News saw people lined up as early as 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, waiting to cast their ballot as Election Day kicked off.

In Mecklenburg County, election administrators expected more than 160,000 people to cast their votes on Tuesday.

Eyewitness News anchor Peter Daut visited Precinct 204 in northeast Charlotte on Tuesday, where turnout has been high. In 2008, voter turnout there was 78 percent, the highest of any precinct in Mecklenburg County.

Many voters predict the turnout this year will be even higher.

All morning long, there was a steady flow of people lining up to cast their ballot. Eyewitness News was told when the precinct opened at 6:30 a.m., the line was out the door.

In 2008, voter turnout in Mecklenburg County was 65 percent and in North Carolina, it was a little less at 60 percent.

Early voting is expected to have a big impact on Election Day. The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections told Channel 9 more than 250,000 people voted early, which is up from around 200,000 in 2008.

That leaves roughly 60 percent of the county to vote.

N.C. voters are deciding whether to put a Republican in the Executive Mansion for the first time since 1993.  Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton are the leading candidates to become the next governor.

Voters also will decide whether to give Democrats a winning streak for president in the state. President Barack Obama won the state by a slim margin in 2008.

In S.C., Republican Mitt Romney is expected to handily win the nine electoral votes.  The winner of the new 7th congressional district could be the only change to South Carolina's U.S. House delegation.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said he's gotten reports Tuesday of very busy polling stations and a heavy turnout across the state.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. there following a record number of absentee voters.

About 376,000 South Carolinians had voted absentee by late Monday afternoon, surpassing the previous high set in 2008 by more than 33,000 voters.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. in North Carolina and 7 p.m. in South Carolina. Find your polling place in North Carolina here, and in South Carolina here. For election results, click here: http://elections.wsoctv.com

Share your election day photos throughout the day here.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report