Election Day 2012 is finally here-one of the longest days of the year for politicians, some of whom have been on the campaign trail for more than a year now.
While Washington County voters who have not already cast absentee or early in-person ballots visit the polls today, local candidates will bide the time in a variety of ways.
Ohio 94th District Rep. Debbie Phillips won't have a lot of extra time on her hands as she'll be spending the day in Columbus with the House Democratic Caucus where she's co-chair of the statewide campaign committee.
By The Associated Press
Elizabeth Ball looks at her cell phone while waiting in line to vote early, Monday at the Wood County Court House in Bowling Green, Ohio.
"We'll be tracking all of the House races across the state, probably into the wee hours of the morning," she said. "Our candidates have worked hard on their campaigns, and we're expecting some close races. One candidate said she's personally knocked on 70,000 doors during her campaign."
Phillips said this is her first Election Day working with the caucus.
"On past Election Days I would often meet somewhere with friends to hang out and watch the returns, but I won't be doing that this year," she said.
5 things to watch for in the campaign homestretch
WASHINGTON - Five things to watch for in the home stretch of the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney:
1. LAST WORDS? Obama and Romney have spoken thousands of words at hundreds of rallies over the past year. Monday marks the last time Obama will appear on the campaign trail as a candidate standing for election - and it may be the same for Romney as well. Will there be any wistfulness?
2. TV TIME? Presidential race ads are airing wall-to-wall in key places. But the candidates are looking for every way to invade voters' living rooms, so expect both sides to dish out one-on-one interviews with Obama, Romney and their running mates to local news stations in the final hours. How many can each squeeze in?
3. FIRST TALLY? Today's voting began at midnight in Dixville Notch, a small town in northern New Hampshire. Obama and Romney split the Dixville Notch vote, 5-5.
4. LEGAL MANEUVERING? The lawsuits in battleground states are already piling up as both parties seek every advantage in the close race. Some involve absentee voting, others overseas ballots. What legal steps are still to come?
5. EXPLAINING THE LOSS? We've heard both camps say why they'll win. But one will lose. How soon do the excuses start to fly for what went awry? Did Superstorm Sandy have an impact?
Her opponent in the 94th District race, Republican Charles Richter, compared Election Day to a sports event like a ball game.
"You get the pre-game jitters, and when the game starts they go away," he said. "But on Election Day those jitters don't go away until you get the final results."
To help steady his nerves, Richter plans to celebrate his wife's birthday, which happens to fall on Election Day, and he may visit some campaign centers in Meigs and Athens counties.
"We've also been invited to Marietta to watch the returns (this) evening," he said.
Republican Sixth District U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson, of Marietta, plans to spend most of the day with his family.
"The time for worrying about the campaign is over," he said. "I'm going to spend quite a bit of time with the family, although we do plan to get out to some of the victory centers, and we'll have lunch at the First Presbyterian Church Election Day dinner."
Later in the evening Johnson has reserved the Town House restaurant on Front Street where he and friends will be watching the election returns.
Democratic Party challenger Charlie Wilson will start out a busy day in Columbiana County, according to campaign spokesman JR Starrett.
"We'll start at our Lisbon office where 150 campaign volunteers will be working," Starrett said Monday. "We're also expecting some rallies at Steubenville and Belmont County, then will end the day at a Democratic watch party at Undo's West restaurant in St. Clairsville."
Republican candidate for Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi is working on Election Day.
"I'm working through the day which should help keep my mind off the race, but I'll probably be getting nervous after 5 p.m.," he said. "During the evening I'll be moving between the Republican headquarters and the county courthouse."
Kerenyi said he's taking Wednesday off and will likely spend that day driving around the county to pick up election signs.
Randy Burnworth, who's running against Kerenyi in the race for common pleas judge, has similar plans.
"I'll be working here at the magistrate's office the biggest part of the day, then I'll join my wife for dinner," he said. "Later in the evening we'll find someplace to watch the election results."
Burnworth said he'll also begin picking up election signs soon after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. today.
Voters and candidates won't have to go hungry as some area churches are serving Election Day dinners.
Pastor Jenni Dunham said the Little Hocking United Methodist Church Election Day soup dinners are a popular affair each year.
"We usually have a great turnout of people," she said. "We're serving soup beans and vegetable soup, and they can eat in or carry it out."
Dunham said the event is also a fundraiser for the church and donations help support community service projects.
The Beverly UMC will hold a combined Election Day Dinner and Bazaar today.
"This is an annual event the women of the church have been organizing long before I came here nine years ago," said Pastor Jeff Corbett. "They have plenty of food and will also sell crafts at the bazaar."
He said the church expects a higher turnout for the dinner this year due to the presidential election.
"But this goes beyond a church fundraiser-it's a ministry for us," Corbett added. "People come in hungry and have some time for fellowship. There's no preaching. And we get a lot of people who don't normally come into the church."
Other Election Day food events include a bake sale at Sand Hill UMC in Reno, as well as dinner at First Presbyterian Church in Marietta.