CHICAGO: Barack Obama became the first US president to cast an early vote on Thursday, delighting supporters on a quick trip to his home town of Chicago, squeezed into a punishing eight-state campaign blitz.

Obama, who jokes with his crowds that he will not reveal who won his vote, then set course for a late night rally in Ohio, shaping up as the pivotal state in a tight race with Republican Mitt Romney.

In a slightly incongruous scene, Obama, possibly the most famous man in the world, returned to a neighborhood near his vacant home, in all the hullabaloo of a presidential motorcade and presented his ID for scrutiny.

Then he stood behind a touch screen machine to cast his vote, in a move designed to convince supporters to also go to the polls early, to help him build up a lead over Romney in a neck-and-neck race.

“All across the country, we are seeing a lot of early voting,” the president said, saying advance balloting freed voters from having to work out childcare or to take days off work on election day.

At a stop at a campaign office, he warned supporters: “If we let up and our voters don’t turn out, we could lose this election. Now the good news is, if our voters do turn out, we will definitely win the election.”—AFP

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