Droves of U.S. voters are headed to polls across the country Tuesday to elect a new president, the culmination of a long, contentious campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
Clinton, a former secretary of state looking to become the first female U.S. president, cast a ballot for herself at a polling place near her suburban New York home.
Trump, the blunt-spoken real estate tycoon making his first run for elected office, planned to vote later near his skyscraper home a short distance away in the city.
Clinton said it was “the most humbling feeling” to vote. “I know how much responsibility goes with this and so many people are counting on the outcome of this election, what it means for our country, and I will do the best I can if I am fortunate enough to win today.” Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, accompanied her to the polling place to cast his vote as well.
Trump, in a phone interview with Fox News, described the presidential campaign as an “amazing process,” where he encountered the unfulfilled aspirations of many Americans. Trump said he had seen “so many hopes and dreams that didn’t happen, that could have been helped with proper leadership.”
At one of his debates with Clinton, Trump said would “keep you in suspense” about whether he would accept the result of the election unless he wins. But his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., told CNN Tuesday, “We’re going to respect the outcome.”
The winner will become the country’s 45th president, replacing President Barack Obama, a staunch Clinton supporter, when he leaves office January 20, limited by the U.S. Constitution to two terms in office.
Clinton has narrow lead in polls
Clinton headed to Election Day with a small, but steady advantage in national pre-election surveys, about a three-percentage edge, and small leads in several polls in key election states that will determine the outcome of the race.
U.S. presidential elections are not determined by the national popular vote, but rather by the results in each of the country’s 50 states and the national capital, Washington. The most populous states have the biggest influence in the Electoral College, where the winning candidate must amass at least a majority 270 of the 538 electors.
More than 46 million ballots have already been cast in the many states that opened polling places for early voting in the last few weeks, with 80 million to 100 million more votes expected Tuesday. By early Tuesday evening the first vote counts will be disclosed from eastern states in the U.S., even as voting continues in the western part of the country.
In the first hours of the quadrennial election, there were reports of long lines of voters waiting to cast ballots, but otherwise only sporadic problems with malfunctioning voting machines in one state and technical issues with voter check-in in another.
Some female voters wore pantsuits to cast their votes for Clinton, a sartorial nod to her favorite outfits. Many of them were inspired by a Facebook group called Pantsuit Nation that supported the 69-year-old candidate who was the country’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, during Obama’s first term in the White House.
Clinton and the 70-year-old Trump, two of the three oldest candidates for the U.S. presidency, both finished their campaigns in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Clinton called the election “the test of our time,” while Trump declared that “today is our Independence Day.”
Results from the 50 U.S. states and the city of Washington will not be announced until after polls close in each one. By 8 p.m. Washington time (0100 GMT) polls will be closed in much of the eastern and central parts of the country, a group of states that accounts for more than half of the 538 electoral votes at stake.
Clinton struck a tone of unity in her final address in North Carolina, telling supporters she wants to be president for both those who vote for her and those who do not.
“Years from today, when your kids and grandkids ask what you did in 2016, when everything was on the line, you’ll be able to say you voted for a stronger, fairer, better America,” she said. “An America where we build bridges not walls, and where we prove conclusively that, yes love trumps hate.”
Trump told his Michigan crowd that his win would bring “real change” to the country and allow working class people to “strike back” at what he said were corrupt politicians and special interests that have ruled the country.
“So the first thing we should do, let’s get rid of Hillary, okay? That would be a very good first step,” he said.
(Voice Of America)
Hispanic voters on Tuesday could have the power to decide the outcome of the presidential election, according to the New York Times.
Data collected from the early voting period suggests a surge in Hispanics turning out to vote could give Hillary Clinton an advantage over Donald Trump.
In Florida, for example, 15 percent of the people who voted early said they were Hispanic on their voter registration form, the report said. The Times noted that 12 percent of the final electorate in 2012 consisted of Hispanic voters.
More than 6.4 million people had cast ballots in Florida in the early voting period before Tuesday, the report said, which is already equal to 75 percent of the final turnout in 2012. Clinton’s campaign estimates that Hispanics voting in Florida is up 139 percent compared to 2012, according to Reuters. The Miami Herald said an analysis by Dan Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, found that through Saturday, 565,000 Hispanics voted early in Florida, which is a 100 percent increase over 2012.
CBS News’ Anthony Salvanto has noted that Hispanic turnout is surging because there are more new Hispanic voters participating in the election process. Twenty percent of the Hispanics who already voted before Election Day in Florida are new while only 12 percent of the early-voting whites in the state are new.
The Hispanic vote in Nevada could also help Clinton, according to the Times. Early voting turnout in some of the heavily Hispanic areas around Las Vegas has already surpassed 2012 levels, the report said.
It’s still too early to tell, however, whether Hispanic voters will really make a difference. Most states, the Times pointed out, don’t ask people about race and Hispanic origin on voter registration forms.
Polls conducted over the course of the election might have also underestimated Hispanic support, the Times said. The report said evidence suggests pollsters usually contact too many “well-assimilated, English-speaking, high-turnout Hispanic voters who live in less Hispanic areas” and those voters tend to be Republican, the report said. Polls, therefore, might not have captured the level of support for Clinton among Hispanics, the Times argued.