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PHOTOS: America votes to elect new President

By Lalit K Jha and Yoshita Singh
Last updated on: November 08, 2016 22:57 IST
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Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton registers her first ‘win’ by four votes to two against Trump.

IMAGE: Democratic US vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine arrives to cast his ballot at the Hermitage Methodist Home polling station in Richmond, Virginia. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Millions of Americans on Tuesday lined up at polling stations to elect either the country’s first woman president in its 240-year history or a political outsider in the White House as the race between Hillary Clinton and her rival Donald Trump remains too close to call.

Fighting for every single vote at stake, Democratic nominee Clinton and her Republican rival Trump made their last-minute forceful argument before the American people with their own vision for the world’s largest economy.

Clinton, 69, was joined by husband Bill as she addressed a massive rally in Raleigh in the key battle ground state of North Carolina, which was entertained by Lady Gaga.

Trump, 70, made a last-minute scheduled stop in Michigan to address thousands of his supporters hoping that he might be able to swing this state from the Democrats.

The two rallies ended around 1 am (local time), just six hours before opening of the polling booths in the East Coast.

IMAGE: An election official answers a question from a voter waiting for the poll to open in Miami Beach, Florida. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters

The first ballots were cast in a sleepy hamlet in New Hampshire, traditionally the first in the nation to vote on Election Day, with Clinton winning the contest.

Clinton registered her first ‘win’ in the 2016 elections by four votes to two against Trump soon after midnight in the remote Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

Clinton captured four of Dixville Notch’s eight votes while her Republican rival Trump received two, Libertarian Gary Johnson received one vote, and there was even one vote for Mitt Romney.

The small hamlet having 12 registered votes has voted for Republican nominees in most of the elections since 1960 except for 2008 when it voted for Obama. In 2012, it was split equally between Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

IMAGE: People fill out their ballot at the James Weldon Johnson school in the East Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York City. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

While Clinton is close to victory mark, Trump must win most of the battleground states to clinch the magic figure of 270 Electoral College votes.

Arizona, 11, Florida, 29, Nevada, 6, Nebraska 2nd Congressional District, 1, New Hampshire, 4, and North Carolina, 15, are key battleground states.

An estimated 200 million people are eligible to cast their votes to elect the country’s 45th president along with hundreds of Congressmen and members of state legislatures and local civic bodies.

IMAGE: A first-time voter clicks a selfie with her mother in Manhattan. Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters.

A record 42 million have already voted using the ‘early voting’ provision of the American electoral system, surpassing the 2012 record when 32.3 million people had voted in advance.

Clinton and Trump crisscrossed several stops in key battleground states on the final day of campaigning which the United States media has termed as the ugliest and the most divisive.

“This election is basically between division and unity in our country. It’s between strong and steady leadership or a loose cannon who could put everything at risk. It is between an economy that works for everyone or one that is even more stacked for those at the top,” Clinton told a cheering crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina.

IMAGE: A man votes at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, Virginia. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

“None of us, none of us, want to wake up on Wednesday morning and wish we had done more,” she said, which she repeated in her other election rallies including the one in Philadelphia, which was also addressed by US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle.

Latest poll indicated that while the election seems to have tightened in the last few days, Clinton maintains a slight lead over Trump. Almost all major polls are predicting a victory for Clinton, but Trump appeared confident of winning some of the key battleground states and thus wrest the White House from the Democrats after a gap of eight years.

“Do you want America to be ruled by the corrupt political class. Or do you want to be ruled by you, the people,” Trump said in Michigan.

“Political establishment has brought distraction of factories and jobs,” Trump said.

IMAGE: Ballot clerks verify the ballot count before the polls open for the 2016 US presidential election in Woodstock, New Hampshire. Photograph: Mary Schwalm/Reuters

“Tomorrow, the working class will strike back,” he said in New Hampshire and in Michigan, he declared, “Today is the Independence Day”.

Trump kicked off his Monday engagements with a rally in Florida.

“We’re going to be one country. We’re not going to be a divided nation anymore, we're a divided nation. We are a divided nation. We will also cancel billions and billions of dollars in global warming payments to the United Nations where those payments disappear. And we’re going to use all that money to invest in the infrastructure and we could even say the environmental infrastructure of our country,” Trump said.

Trump would be spending the Election Day in New York. His ‘victory rally’ has been schedule at a hotel in New York, a few kilometres away from the ‘victory rally’ of Clinton.

IMAGE: Peter Jacob, Democratic candidate from the 7th Congressional District in New Jersey votes. Photograph: George Joseph

The Republican presidential nominee's election journey has been sensational as from a rank political outsider he has come close to becoming the US President.

This year, the Republican field began with a long list of 17 candidates, including Indian-origin Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. The Democratic field, on the other hand, was not as crowded, with just Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders in the race.

Unlike India, in the US campaigning can be done even as voting continues.

Every state would start counting the votes as polling concludes.

One of the main highlight of the last few weeks has been the electioneering blitz by Obama.

First of the first: Clay Smith is the first to cast his ballot in the US presidential election at midnight in tiny Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. Photograph: Mary Schwalm/Reuters

In the last 10 days, he addressed as many as 17 rallies -- rare for an outgoing President.

In the last phase of the campaign, the Clinton campaign also brought in popular singers, which Trump alleged was a move to attract crowd.

The two campaigns have different theme. While ‘Make America Great Again’ is the theme of Trump, ‘Stronger Together’ is Clinton’s slogan.

Both the candidates have said they would accept the results of the elections, but reserve the right to challenge in case of close results. The new president would be sworn in on January 20.

Till then the winner would be called president-elect and would have a transition team in place working from Washington.


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Lalit K Jha and Yoshita Singh
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