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Obama casts his vote early, is first US president to do so

Washington: Barack Obama created history when he went to a polling booth in his home town of Chicago to cast his vote, over 12 days ahead of the 6 November elections, thus becoming the first US President to vote early.

Amidst his hectic electioneering schedule, Obama flew in from Richmond in Virginia to cast his vote at the Martin Luther King Community Center in his home town of Chicago.

As Obama entered the voting he greeted everybody and said it is exciting to get to vote early. After he shook the hands of all the poll workers and handed forms to one of them.

"I think I've got paperwork I need to sign in front of you," he told an elderly woman handling his forms.

Obama (L) casts his vote during early voting in the 2012 election in Chicago on Thursday. AP

"This is the first time a president ever going to be early voting," he said while waiting. "That's pretty exciting," Obama said.

After that the woman election official asked for his driver's license for identification purposes.

"Oh, you're right," he said, reaching into his pocket. "I've got my driver's licence. Now ignore the fact that there's no gray hair in that picture," he said.

Following this the election official asked him a question about paperwork,
something about whether it was the right forms, it seemed, according to a White House pool report.. "I assume it is," he said. "I hope so. If not, this will be really embarrassing."

While waiting, he asked if they had been getting a lot of early voters and was told they were. "It makes such a difference," he said. Then he remarked, "I'm just glad I renewed my driver's licence."

According to the pool report, the woman who took his licence held it up and gave it the sort of skeptical examination a TSA officer would. Obama laughed. "Did you see that?" he said, then mimicked her looking over the license.

Thereafter, Obama was brought over to one of the voting stations. It took him about three or four minutes to go through the apparently long ballot, including down-ballot races.

Then a poll worker helped him through the process of finalising the vote, which seemed involved and took a couple more minutes. During this process, the poll worker's phone rang, much to his embarrassment.

"Is that your wife?" Obama asked. No, he said, "That's my wife," pointing to a woman across the room. "I just wanted to make sure," Obama said. "Always take that phone call," he added.

The other voters, no longer even pretending to work on their ballots, recorded the scene with their smart phones.

When he was done, Obama said, "I voted?" The poll worker said, "Yes, sir." Obama gave his testimonial to early voting, then asked if it was okay to take a picture with all the poll workers.

"I don't want to break any laws in front of this many cameramen," he said. The local election official, said it was okay and pictures were taken.

Earlier in the day, Obama in an email to his supporters said that he is going to vote early. "This afternoon, I'm casting my ballot in my hometown of Chicago. I'm told I'll be the first sitting president to take advantage of early voting," he said.

"Look, this race is extremely tight. It's going to come down to which side can more effectively turn out the vote in these final days and early vote is a huge part of that. Whether people get out to vote this year, in this election, is even more critical than the last time around. So this is serious, and I'm going to need your help if we want to win," Obama said.

PTI