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Clinton and Trump keep on fighting until the bitter end

After more than 500 days of fierce campaigning, over 100m Americans go to the polls to choose the new leader of the free world

By Claire Williamson

The most divisive US Presidential election campaign in history went down to the wire last night - bringing months of bitter political battles to a close.

The ugly and unpredictable White House race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was branded the election of fear - with many people admitting they were voting to keep a candidate out, rather than voting for who they wanted to see in office.

The election marked 575 days since Mrs Clinton formally announced she was running and 510 days since Mr Trump announced his candidacy.

And in that time their bids to claim the position of the most powerful leader in the world were plagued with scandals, from FBI investigations into Mrs Clinton's emails, to Mr Trump being forced to apologise for obscene comments he made about women over a decade ago.

The election will make history no matter who the victor is - Mrs Clinton was hoping to become the first woman to serve as commander in chief, while Trump, the billionaire businessman who tapped into a searing strain of economic populism, is the oldest candidate.

In recent days the election which has captured the attention of the world saw both candidates target the traditionally Democratic state of Michigan as it became a last minute battleground.

They embarked on a frenzied final day of campaigning on Monday, jetting across the country to lock down support and votes. In the early hours of Election Day, Mr Trump was still addressing his supporters after they queued for hours to see him in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Meanwhile Mrs Clinton was joined by President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen in Philadelphia in her last bid for support.

"I know how much responsibility goes with this," Mrs Clinton said after voting at her local polling station in Chappaqua, New York, 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."

Millions of voters turned out to have their say on who would become the 45th President of the United States of America - but while Mrs Clinton had been leading in the polls, with one leading statistics site giving her a 71% chance of victory, few dared predict the outcome.

Experts had predicted there would be a record turnout for the 2016 vote and that it was on course to be the most expensive campaign ever for the two least popular candidates in US history.

Mr Trump was met with some heckles in New York as he cast his vote.

Meanwhile his son Eric Trump was forced to delete a tweet he posted of his ballot which showed his vote for his father - something that is illegal in 18 states, including New York where he cast his vote.

Voter queues snaked around buildings amid fears of voter intimidation which hung over the election following consistent claims from Mr Trump's campaign that the process was rigged and that he would not accept the result if Mrs Clinton won.

Voters in Florida, a key battle ground, reported multiple issues of voter intimidation with people at stations claiming they witnessed aggressive behaviour.

Mr Trump claimed yesterday that votes were being changed from Republican to Democrat on the machines. He told reporters: "It's happening at various places today, it's been reported.

"The machines, you put down a Republican and it registers as a Democrat, and they've had a lot of complaints about that today."

The 2016 Election has seen a series of issues, such as race, come to the fore.

This year the Latino vote was set to be a heavy influence on the result, especially in Florida.

In Detroit, Ray Sanchez who is of Mexican descent said the Latino community felt passionate about voting in this election

"You can feel the presence of the Latino community because they are voting with their heart. They are voting because they know we can't go back to the way it was."

Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton both awaited their fate in New York less than two miles apart.

Mrs Clinton gathered her support at the Javits Centre meanwhile Mr Trump was at the Hilton Midtown Hotel.

But for one it was a party - and for the other it was a wake.

Sex, lies and videotape... a look back at one of the nastiest election battles in the history of American politics

July 19: Businessman Donald Trump is declared the official Republican candidate, having pledged a year earlier to “make America great again” when he announced his intention to run.

July 26: Hillary Clinton is declared candidate for President at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, fending off stiff competition from her rival Bernie Sanders, who gave his public backing saying he was “proud to stand with her”.

August 12: Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton release their tax returns, showing they earned $10.6 million (£8.2 million) last year.

Trump continues to refuse to make public details of his own finances, breaking tradition with previous campaigns, saying he will not reveal them before a routine audit is completed.

September 11: Clinton has to leave a memorial event for 9/11 victims early. Video footage appears to show her being helped by aides after she stumbles outside and it later emerges she had been diagnosed with pneumonia.

October 7: Trump’s bid is plunged into crisis when a 2005 tape emerges in which he is heard talking about groping women and saying he could “grab them by the p****” because he was a celebrity.

A number of women come forward in the weeks following the tape leak, accusing Trump of unwanted advances or sexual assault. He denies all allegations, saying he believes the election is being rigged against him.

October 20: In the third and final debate Trump suggests he may not accept the election result.

When pressed on it later he assures those gathered at a rally in Ohio that he will accept the final vote “if I win”.

October 28: The FBI announces it will look at whether there is classified information contained in newly discovered emails, to see if they are relevant to its investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

The gap in public opinion polls narrows afterwards, but Clinton remains in the lead.

November 6: The FBI found no criminal wrongdoing in Clinton’s emails two days before the polls opened.

November 7: Presidential hopefuls spend the last few hours campaigning in key battleground states.

Clinton urges voters to embrace a “hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America”. Trump calls for support to “beat the corrupt system”.

November 8: Over 100 million American voters go to the polls to decide whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next President  of the United States.

Belfast Telegraph


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