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Va's biggest, costliest election in voters' hands

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Long lines of determined voters ensured that some precincts would remain open late into a cold night Tuesday, delaying the outcome of pivotal presidential and U.S. Senate races in the battleground of Virginia.

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney were in a toss-up race that was too close to call late Tuesday for the 13 electoral votes that both parties consider vital for victory.

The same was true for two former governors, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen, who are battling for the seat Democratic Sen. Jim Webb is vacating. The outcome could determine whether Democrats keep their narrow U.S. Senate majority.

All 11 of Virginia's U.S. House members cruised to easy victories over little-known challengers.

Four years ago, Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to win Virginia in a presidential race. The president had a lead in polling and appeared headed for a repeat in Virginia until Romney pulled within the statistical margin of error in October, after Obama's poor performance in the first presidential debate.

Spending in the Senate race topped $80 million, obliterating all records for a statewide race in Virginia. The majority, $53 million, came from outside, independent organizations, many of which do not have to disclose their wealthy donors. That's the largest amount for any Senate contest in the country this election cycle. About 60 percent of that money was spent either in opposition to Kaine or support of Allen.

All 11 of the state's congressmen — eight Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and three Democrats — faced challengers to their re-election, most of them little-known newcomers.

Voters cast ballots on a constitutional amendment to limit eminent domain, which is the government's ability to take private property for economic development needs. Virginia's legislature outlawed the practice in 2007, leading opponents to say the amendment is not needed.

Long lines at voting precincts across the state creating exhausting waits for voters, many of whom braved temperatures in the 40s. Some gave up and went home.

Don Palmer, executive secretary of the State Board of Elections, said extensive queues would force polls to remain open in some of the state's largest localities hours beyond their 7 p.m. closing times. They included the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Giles, Halifax, Henrico, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Culpeper and Montgomery and the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke and Virginia Beach.

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