Washington: 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, ending the ugliest presidential campaign in US history.
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.
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.
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.
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 US 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.
“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.