US election: Who could keep America safer from terrorists?

Unusually large numbers of voters have turned out to choose between U.S. President George W. Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry after a deadlocked White House campaign marked by deep divisions over the war in Iraq, the battle against terrorism and the economy.

With the electorate polarized over the country's direction three years after the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>September 11, 2001 attacks inspired a short-lived unity, as many as 125 million Americans were voting on Tuesday to set the nation's course for the next four years.

Polls showed the race was extraordinarily close, with surveys showing a dead heat nationally and indicating most of the 10 hardest-fought battleground states could tip either way.

Long lines formed at polling stations and voters were unusually motivated amid lingering bitterness over the 2000 election, when Bush lost the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore but narrowly won the Electoral College after the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the vote recount in &to=http:// 22/98/395/14078_Democrats.html ' target=_blank>Florida, informs Reuters.

"If younger voters turn out – and so far we have every reason to believe they will – then it will be a big turnout, perhaps from a 105 million last time to 112, 115 million this time, which would make it a 55 percent voter turnout. And if that's the case, then look for a Kerry victory," pollster John Zogby said late last week.

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