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US election 2016: Polling opens across 6 time zones as America votes for President

After nearly two years of bitterness and rancor, America will elect its 45th president Tuesday, either making Hillary Clinton the nation's first female commander-in-chief or choosing billionaire businessman Donald Trump, whose volatile campaign has u

India TV News Desk, Washington [ Published on: November 08, 2016 19:29 IST ]
US election polling opens across 6 time zones
US election polling opens across 6 time zones

After nearly two years of bitterness and rancor, America will elect its 45th president Tuesday, either making Hillary Clinton the nation's first female commander-in-chief or choosing billionaire businessman Donald Trump, whose volatile campaign has upended U.S. politics.

All 50 states and Washington DC will go to the polls across six different time zones on election day today. 

Depending on the state, polling booths will open between 6 AM and 7 AM local time and close between 7 PM and 8 PM (5:30 AM and 6:30 AM IST). If a voter is in line when polls close, then he or she gets to vote.

The candidate who secures 270 out of the 538 votes in the electoral college will be chosen as the successor to the current President Barack Obama who extensively campaigned for his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

While the voting will close between 19:00 EST (5:30 AM IST, Wednesday) and 20:00 EST (6:30 AM IST,Wednesday) - for state projections, one village, Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, has a tradition of middle-of-the-night voting and has already declared Hillary Clinton as its winner. 

Once the polls have closed, there will be a projection for each state based on opinion polls taken throughout the day, which are a good indication of the results - but not always correct.

Trump or Clinton, whoever wins, will inherit an anxious nation, angry and distrustful of leaders in Washington. They'll preside over an economy that is improving but still leaving many behind, and a military less extended abroad than eight years ago, but grappling with new terror threats.

Clinton enters Election Day with multiple paths to victory, while Trump must win most of the roughly dozen battleground states up in order to clinch 270 Electoral College votes. Control of the Senate is also at stake, with Democrats needing to net four seats if Clinton wins the White House.

In the campaign's final hours, the Democrat was buoyed by FBI Director James Comey's weekend announcement that he would not recommend criminal charges against her following a new email review. The inquiry had sapped surging Clinton momentum at a crucial moment in the race and risked damaging Democrats running in down-ballot races.

Clinton never mentioned the FBI review Monday and appeared to already have an eye on the challenges waiting after election. She bemoaned the caustic election season that sparked so much division, saying she'd come to "regret deeply how angry the tone of the campaign became."

The centerpiece of Clinton's final campaign swing was a massive rally on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, where she was joined by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

"We know enough about my opponent, we know who he is," Clinton said as she addressed the 33,000-person crowd, her largest of the campaign. "The real question for us is what kind of country we want to be."

Trump closed his improbable presidential bid in trademark style: flying across the country in his now-familiar private jet and headlining packed rallies filled with enthusiastic supporters. As he surveyed the crowd in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he declared: "It's been a long journey."

Trump ended his marathon final day of campaigning with a final rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he implored his supporters to get out and vote.

"If we don't win, this will be the single greatest waste of time, energy and money in my life," he told them. "We have to win."

Trump's final event at a local convention center was surprisingly staid, with none of the theatrics of an earlier rally in a packed arena in New Hampshire that featured laser lights and smoke machines.

The businessman was aggressive to the end, slamming Clinton as the "face of failure." Having made the new FBI review a centerpiece of his closing case to voters, he argued that the Democrat was being protected by a "totally rigged system."

"You have one magnificent chance to beat the corrupt system and deliver justice," Trump implored his supporters. "Do not let this opportunity slip away."

Heading into Election Day, nearly 45 million people had already cast ballots in advance voting. About half of those votes were cast under the shadow of Comey's initial announcement of a new email review.

According to CNN, the solid Republican states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The lean Republican comprise Georgia, Iowa, Maine 2nd Congressional District, Ohio and Utah.

The solid Democratic states comprise California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico.

The leans Democratics are Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Battleground or Swing states (a state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, important to determine the overall result) are Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska 2nd Congressional District, New Hampshire and North Carolina,

The results are expected to be known in India by 9.30 a.m. IST on Wednesday morning. That's when West Coast polls close and history suggests a winner's declared. It was bang on the hour in 2008, and 15 minutes later in 2012.

Clinton is banking in part on high turnout — particularly among Obama's young, diverse coalition of voters — to carry her over the finish line Tuesday. Roughly half the states with advance voting have reported record turnout, including Florida and Nevada, which have booming Hispanic populations, a possible good sign for Clinton.

In Florida alone, Hispanic participation is up by more than 453,000 votes, nearly doubling the 2012 level. Black turnout is up compared to 2012, but that share of the total vote is lower due to bigger jumps among Latinos and whites, according to University of Florida professor Daniel Smith

In Nevada, where more than three-fourths of expected ballots have been cast, Democrats also lead, 42 percent to 36 percent.

Trump has eschewed the kind of investments in voter data and ground operations that propelled Obama to the White House and have been emulated by Clinton. His campaign was instead banking on the enthusiasm of his supporters to motivate them to show up to vote.

The Republican touted the "movement" he's created, but also warned it would all slip away with a loss Tuesday.

"Today is our Independence Day," Trump said in Grand Rapids. "Today the American working class is going to strike back."

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