U.S. election: Clinton and Trump wage fierce fight for White House in battleground states

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton waged a tight battle in several crucial battleground states on Tuesday in their bitter race for the White House, as America’s ugly and unpredictable presidential election barrelled toward a nail-biting finish.

Clinton, a fixture in American politics for decades, is hoping to become the first woman to serve, but faces stiff competition from Trump, the wealthy businessman who has tapped into a searing strain of economic populism.

The race was particularly tight in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, leaving the race on a knife’s edge. Trump captured crucial victories in North Carolina and Ohio, while Clinton carried California, Virginia and Colorado.

Both candidates scored victories in states where they were expected to win. Trump captured conservative states in the South and Midwest, while Clinton swept several states on the East Coast and Illinois in the Midwest.

In the lead-up to election day, Clinton had more options to reach the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the White House, with Trump needing a virtual sweep of about six toss-up states to win. But a Trump win in those four states would make it nearly impossible for Clinton to clinch the White House.

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump cast their ballots in the U.S. election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Brian Snyder/Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Also at stake is control of Congress, with Republicans defending a slight four-seat majority in the 100-member Senate. The House of Representatives, where all 435 seats were up for grabs, will remain in Republican hands.

The next president will inherit an anxious nation, deeply divided by economic and educational opportunities, race and culture. The economy has rebounded from the depths of recession, though many Americans have yet to benefit. New terror threats from home and abroad have raised security fears.

The uncertainty sent markets tumbling across Asia, reflecting investor concern over what a Trump presidency might mean for the economy and trade. The U.S. dollar and Mexican peso were also down.

Candidates cast ballots

Clinton, 69, asked voters to keep the White House in Democratic hands for a third straight term. She cast herself as heir to President Barack Obama’s legacy and pledged to make good on his unfinished agenda, including passing immigration legislation, tightening restrictions on guns and tweaking his signature health-care law.

“I know how much responsibility goes with this,” Clinton said after voting Tuesday at her local polling station in Chappaqua, N.Y., with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, at her side. “So many people are counting on the outcome of this election, what it means for our country, and I will do the very best I can if I’m fortunate enough to win today.”

Trump, the New York real estate developer who lives in a gold-plated Manhattan penthouse, forged a striking connection with white, working-class Americans who feel left behind in the changing economy and diversifying country. He cast immigration — both from Latin America and the Middle East — as the root of many problems plaguing the nation and called for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I see so many hopes and so many dreams out there that didn’t happen, that could have happened, with leadership, with proper leadership,” he said by telephone on Fox News before casting his own ballot in Manhattan. “And people are hurt so badly.”

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Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump watch election results during an election night rally in New York. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Trump, 70, set both parties on edge when he refused to say in the third and final debate whether he would accept the election’s results, citing with no evidence the possibility of a rigged outcome. His statement threatened to undermine a fundamental pillar of American democracy and raised the prospect that his fervent supporters would not view Clinton as a legitimate president if she won.

Asked in an interview with Fox News if he would accept the election results, Trump continued to demur, saying “We’re going to see how things play out.” Later in the interview, he said, “It’s largely a rigged system.”

Defiant into the final hours of election day, the Republican candidate’s campaign announced Tuesday it was seeking an investigation in the battleground state of Nevada over reports that some early voting locations had allowed people to join lines to vote after polls were scheduled to close.

The lawsuit was thrown out a few hours later.

‘A lot of upset people’

According to the preliminary exit polls, most Americans who voted had at least a moderate amount of confidence that election ballots would be counted accurately.

Most problems that did pop up at polling places appeared to be routine — the kinds of snags that come every four years, including long lines, machines not working properly and issues with ballots or voter rolls.

One person was killed and at least two others wounded after a shooting near a polling station in Azusa, Calif. There was no indication the incident was election-related. The polling station was placed in lockdown as a precaution.


Young supporters of Hillary Clinton smile during election night at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

North Carolina extended voting times in several precincts but Colorado rejected a bid to keep polls open longer after both states experienced problems with electronic voting systems.

In Texas, a computer used by election clerks malfunctioned at a polling place inside a suburban Houston high school, forcing officials to briefly divert voters to another polling place more than three kilometres away. Fort Bend County elections administrator John Oldham said the malfunctioning console was later replaced with a backup and voting resumed.

Andrea Patience, a 50-year-old pharmacy technician, was among those standing in line when the computer malfunctioned. She said she waited an hour for it to be fixed. Patience said as many as 100 people were standing in line at the time, and about half of them left.

“There were a lot of upset people,” Patience said. “I don’t know if they will come back later or decide not to vote.”


Hundreds of students at Philadelphia’s Temple University wait in an hour-long line to vote on Tuesday. Long lines have been an issue across the U.S. as election day comes after a long, ugly and sometimes unpredictable race. (Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

In Utah, election officials said voting machine problems in the southern part of the state were forcing poll workers to use paper ballots, potentially affecting tens of thousands of people who had yet to vote.

The question this year was whether problems would be widespread and indicate a pattern of fraud or voter intimidation.

In the last week alone, Democrats went to court in seven states seeking to halt what they claim were efforts by Republicans and the Trump campaign to deploy a network of poll watchers hunting for voter fraud. Republicans have disputed claims they are planning to intimidate voters, and judges largely found no evidence of efforts to suppress voters.

Relief as end is near

This is the first presidential election in which a key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act was not in place. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down a portion of the law that had required certain states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to receive pre-approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for any election law change.

This allowed a number of states, most led by Republican legislatures and governors, to enact strict voter ID laws and reduce early voting.

Election Night HQ - Trump and Clinton

The election night headquarters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are mere kilometres apart. Both are located in Manhattan. (Natalie Holdway/CBC)

Even before Tuesday, almost 45 million people had cast ballots for president. Many expressed relief the end was in sight after an election season in which personal attacks often drowned out the issues.

“I’m tired of the mudslinging,” said Laura Schmitt, a 54-year-old Republican from Woodbury, Minn., who was voting for Trump. Emetric Whittington, a 51-year-old Democratic mother of three on Chicago’s violence-plagued south side, agreed: “I can’t wait for this night to be over.”

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