The Root's readers worked around new voting laws, braved the cold weather and found time to vote early to ensure that their voices are heard. From Maryland to Illinois and beyond, here are the photographs and written recollections of their experiences at the polls.
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Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
After early voting in an intensely fought battleground state, reader Stephanie Swagu Desir-Jean wrote on The Root's Facebook page: "I proudly voted for President [Barack] Obama at the Broward County Library."
Reader Darryl A. Brown also wrote on our Facebook page: "I just did the dang thing. I VOTED. With a chair and a cup of coffee, I was in and out in 2 hours. Don't let the long lines fool you. It moves fast. GO OBAMA!!!"
Ronald Anthony Blocker voted early in Maryland with his wife, Kimberly Smith. "Waited three and a half hours to vote yesterday at the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, MD with our two kids, and it was well worth it!"
Facebook fan LaSonja Henry snapped a shot of her son's first time at a voting booth. "My son, Nathan Henry, is proud to cast his vote," she wrote. "Twenty-two years old, first time/early voter at Statford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, IL."
Ain Ealey and her friend Tasha Alexis smiled for the camera just before they voted for the first time. Ealey wrote on our Facebook page: "First time voting!!! In Atlanta, GA, me and Tasha Alexis with our numbers, Spelman College students! So excited! We didn't know the process would be so long. Lol."
The Root's staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, voted early and wanted stickers to prove it! "I voted in Washington, D.C., on Monday before work," she wrote in an email. "It was my first time voting early, and my only concern was about whether I'd get a second 'I Voted' sticker to wear on Election Day. They were really strict and wouldn't give me one, so I'll be saving this one for the 6th."
The Root's education correspondent, Ivory A. Toldson, shows off his "I Voted" sticker after casting his ballot at Walker-Jones Elementary School in Washington, D.C. "Voting is my civic responsibility as a U.S. citizen," Toldson says. "Not voting would be an affront to 20th-century civil rights leaders, including my own grandfather, who was shot in north Louisiana for fighting for his right to vote."
Fredline Lebrun cast her ballot at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia. "This election is not just about the next four years; it's about the next 20," Lebrun says. "And that is why I voted for Barack Obama."
Oregonian Bettie Chestnut snaps a photo with her mail-in ballot (Oregon is one of only two states that require voting by mail).
Val Ross poses for a camera before casting his ballot in Oakland, Calif. His daughter Tracey says, "Four years ago, he brought a picture of his father with him to vote because he wanted him to be there when he voted for the first black president. Grandpa Ross was a World War II vet but was turned away from the polls for being black."
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Rayce and Linda Denton wait to vote in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Root reader Vanne Clarke "attempt[s] to turn the Commonwealth of Virginia blue" with his vote at at Woodley Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. "Let's hope it pays off," Clarke says.
Silver Spring, Md.
The Root reader Thea Singleton cast her vote in Silver Spring, Md., pushing the "Cast Ballot" button with her son Alden Singleton-Smith. While posing for the photo, Smith said, "I know President Obama is going to get even more votes this time!"