ASHBURN, Va. (WJLA) - At Sully Elementary School in Sterling, a line was forming but only one of three computers used to check in voters was working.
But at one point, the glitches affected 25 of the county's 85 precincts, including Purcellville, Lovettsville and Ashburn.
Some early morning voters, late for work, just gave up.
With both camps pushing for every possible vote, national issues such as abortion often were the deciding factor.
Regina Willard voted for Republican Ken Cucinnelli, currently the attorney general for Virginia.
“He’s not in favor of Obamacare and I'm very much against that,” she says.
But Priscilla Tucker went for Democrat Terry McAuliffe—emphatically.
“I like him far better than the 'Cuch’ and also the way the Tea Party has been running the country, I shall vote this way for a long time,” she says.
Turnout was expected to be low - 40 percent was the figure both sides were using - and both candidates mustered their campaign organizations to find every last supporter. The campaign's negative tilt turned many voters off, and strategists in both parties predicted the outcome could be decided by just a few thousand votes.
Voters were barraged with a series of commercials that tied Cuccinelli to restricting abortions.
The negative advertising aside, both candidates got help from some big names. Both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton made appearances for McAuliffe in the final weeks. President Barack Obama campaigned for him this weekend, Michelle Obama lent her voice to a radio advertisement and Vice President Joe Biden spoke to supporters on the eve of the election.
Cuccinelli, too, got high-profile backers to the state, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal - all potential presidential contenders in 2016.
From the outset, the campaign shaped up as a barometer of voters' moods and a test of whether a swing-voting state like Virginia could elect a tea party-style governor. As one of just two races for governor nationwide, political strategists eyed the race for clues about what would work for 2014's midterm elections when control of Congress is up for grabs.
The winner will succeed term-limited Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, for a four-year term starting in January. Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, but far fewer voters participate in off-year elections and that gives the GOP better odds.
Republicans bet a deeply conservative candidate would be their best shot, passing over a lieutenant governor for Cuccinelli, a crusader against the federal health care law. Democrats chose a loyal partisan who once led the Democratic National Committee and recruited the Clintons to raise millions for him and rally the party faithful.
The 45-year-old Cuccinelli went into Election Day trying to overcome a deficit in the polls, a crush of negative ads and a lingering wariness among fellow Republicans about his conservative views. His day was set to take him from his home in northern Virginia south toward Richmond, where he planned to watch the results with supporters.
Cuccinelli pinned his hopes on voters' frustrations with the federal health care law he attempted to foil. He tried to make the election into a referendum on the law, which McAuliffe supports.
"I'm scared to death about what Obamacare is doing to Virginians. Terry McAuliffe is scared to death what Obamacare is doing to Terry McAuliffe," Cuccinelli said Monday, noting its rocky rollout has proved embarrassing for Democrats.
Ahead in the polls, the 56-year-old McAuliffe sought to avoid an eleventh-hour error. On Tuesday morning, McAuliffe stopped by a campaign office to rally volunteers near Richmond. He urged them to knock on one more door and phone one more friend as the campaign near its end. McAuliffe said that effort was needed to combat low turnout.
"This is the greatest democracy in the world. We want everyone to vote," McAuliffe told reporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.