Poll worker Cassandra Alcantara places flags outside of the Eagles Lodge in Sherman Oaks, CA Tuesday.    Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer
Poll worker Cassandra Alcantara places flags outside of the Eagles Lodge in Sherman Oaks, CA Tuesday. Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer (David Crane)

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The "Vote Here" sign and American flag had yet to be hung outside the Fraternal Order of Eagle's building, where Cory Williams lined up to cast his ballot early Tuesday morning.

The 41-year-old U.S. Postal carrier and Sherman Oaks resident said he had to vote before work, but more importantly, he wanted to make his voice heard.

"I've been watching the polls and they're so close," Williams said of President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. "I felt I needed to get in and hand in my vote, so it could count."

A neck-and-neck presidential race and nearly a dozen state propositions that include an increase in taxes, a repeal of the death penalty, and additional labels on foods drew voters to the booths early on Election Day.

After all the mudslinging in presidential and local races, the endless polls and predictions, the robo-calls, and analysis by politicians and the media, the election was where it was supposed to be, many said: in the hands of Americans.

"This is the first (presidential) election I can vote in," said 21-year-old Ryan Middledorf, who just moved to Van Nuys from Virginia, where Obama and Romney have been slugging it out for precious electoral votes.


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Middledorf said he was so new to California, that he hadn't had a chance to grasp the meaning of all the propositions, but he wanted to help make a difference in the presidential race.

"It's so very, very close," he said.

In Los Angeles County, about 1.1 million people have voted by mail.

That's 530,000 more on file than for 2008's general election, or a 93 percent increase. And it's nearly 25 percent of the county's total voter registration of some 4.

Voters line up outside the Eagles Lodge in Sherman Oaks, CA Tuesday to vote at 7am when the polling places open.   Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer
Voters line up outside the Eagles Lodge in Sherman Oaks, CA Tuesday to vote at 7am when the polling places open. Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer (David Crane)
5 million people who came out on Election Day.

But those from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office said a potential 3 million people could show up to the 4,600 polling sites across the county.

At Northridge Hospital Medical Center, about 40 patients requested absentee ballots. The hospital has offered the service for years, said Mary Grim, director of neurology at the hospital.

At the Fraternal Order of Eagles building in Sherman Oaks, where a duplicate painting of Lady Liberty hung above voting booths, voters stood in an early morning line that snaked around a corner. Some said they were there to back Proposition 30, a temporary tax hike that would alleviate state plans to cut funding for schools and other public programs.

Cara Schneider, the principal at Noble Elementary School in Panorama City, also said if she could give either man running for president some advice, it would be to focus on public education.

"I want them to make sure public education is well funded, so that a child from any economic background is able to succeed, and to go to college," she said.

Vicenta Camey, 67, of North Hollywood, said she was proud to vote for Obama again, because she believed it was wrong to yank him out of office, just when he was gaining momentum.

"Miracles he cannot make," Camey admitted, "but let him do his job and I think he'll do better in the next few years."

Voters across the county had a long list of local tax measures and issues to decide on, including a requirement that adult film actors wear condoms during porn shoots; a sales tax extension for transportation projects; a sex scandal-related recall in San Fernando; and a soda tax in El Monte.

But the presidential race was on the minds of many.

"I want Obama to have another term," said Marco Varela, 49, of San Fernando. "We have to let him finish what he started. And I'm voting because it's scary what the Republicans want to do. I don't want any more wars."

At the Eagle's Lodge, voter Sam Billimoria complained that he was going to the polls with only information he received by the state about the propositions. He said he was disappointed he did not receive a guide to all the candidates in the local races, such as district attorney.

"That's a disservice," he said. "We have a right to receive all information."