WASHINGTON (AP) — Election Day is hitting with an additional layer of tension after weeks of uncertainty about the security of voting systems and threats of intimidation at the polls.
Unsupported claims by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of a rigged election, fears that hackers might attack election systems, and concerns about voter intimidation or fraud have clouded the run-up to Tuesday’s vote.
One positive sign is the lack of any significant trouble during early voting, which could account for as much as 40 percent of the overall vote.
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Presidential elections usually include sporadic voting problems, such as machines not working properly, long lines and issues with ballots or voter rolls. The question is whether problems this year will be widespread and indicate a pattern of fraud or intimidation.
With polls set to open at 6:30 a.m. EST, America is preparing to elect its 45th president. If she wins, Hillary Clinton would become the nation’s first female commander in chief.
Whether it’s Clinton or billionaire Donald Trump, the winner 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 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.
Trump’s final message to his supporters in the election’s waning hours was, “We have to win.”
The GOP nominee told his final rally crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan that, “If we don’t win, this will be the single greatest waste of time, energy and money in my life.”
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.
As he spoke, dozens of people streamed toward the exit, forming a procession in front of an area where reporters were stationed.
Some said they were trying to get closer to the door. But most said they were leaving because they were tired, wanted to beat traffic or had heard enough.
Trump says now that he’s finished his campaign, his “new adventure” will be “making America great again.”
Clinton called on voters to reject Donald Trump’s “dark and divisive” vision. She said there’s no reason why “America’s best days are not ahead of us.”
She closed out her campaign with a rally early Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina, featuring Lady Gaga and Jon Bon Jovi. Clinton told cheering supporters that their “work will be just beginning” after Election Day.
Clinton spent the final hours of her presidential campaign offering a more positive vision for the country, trying to strike a stark contrast with Trump.
She was joined in her final events by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and confidants, including embattled aide Huma Abedin.
It’s been a busy campaign season in Ohio. Once again, it’s considered a battleground state, and one that’s especially critical to Trump’s chances of winning the Presidency.
The state attracted dozens of visits by Clinton and Donald Trump or their surrogates. That included stops by Democratic President Barack Obama, Trump family members, Democratic former President Bill Clinton and celebrities including Sally Field and Jay Z.
Ohio also delivered a primary victory to Republican Gov. John Kasich and saw Cleveland host the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland was among the most expensive Senate contests of the year. Portman has taken control of the race in recent weeks, and is polling well ahead of Strickland entering election day.