Race for the White House: Early voting has begun in a number of states 0

Early voting has begun in a number of US states two weeks ahead of Election Day after more than 18 months of intensive battle between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

Thirty-six states and Washington, DC, offer some form of early voting. According to the rules in those states, voters can cast their ballots before Election Day without having to give an excuse to vote early. In addition, unlike standard voting, voters are not bound to a specific location for early voting.

People vote at a public library in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, as early voting polling places open on October 24, 2016. (Photo by AFP) 

Americans started voting Monday in Alaska, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin, Colorado, and some parts of Florida, with the last three states being some of the battleground ones up for grabs.

In Harris County, Texas, 15,205 ballots were cast during the first 2.5 hours of early voting, the Harris County Clerk’s office said, adding, the number is equal to one third of the total cast all day on the first day of early voting in 2012, about 47,000.

In Broward County, Florida, over 18,840 residents voted at early voting sites by 3 pm, according to the elections office. “I think people are excited about the presidential election,” said Susan Bucher, elections supervisor for Palm Beach County. “We hope it keeps up like this.”

According to local media outlets, more voters have been choosing an early option in recent election cycles. Up to 40% of voters may go for early voting this year, CBS News estimated.

Democratic nominee Clinton speaks at a campaign rally on October 24, 2016 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by AFP) 

According to a recent poll, Clinton holds a 12-point lead over Trump nationally, with the business mogul campaign denouncing “biased” media surveys.

Clinton had the support of 50 percent of likely voters as opposed to Trump’s 38 percent, said the ABC News 2016 tracking poll released on Sunday.

Trump speaks during a rally at the St. Augustine Amphitheater on October 24, 2016 in St. Augustine, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received 5 percent support among likely voters, while Green Party nominee Jill Stein got 2 percent, the poll showed.

Trump’s campaign said Sunday that the candidate would “break up the new media conglomerate oligopolies” if elected president and denounced Clinton as “the official candidate of the multinational ruling elite.” He has called the US election process rigged, saying that the media is colluding with Clinton in order to beat him.