CHARLOTTE (North Carolina, USA) - He is very excited and raves about the vitality of American political system, as Sherif Hassani proudly shows the badge pinned on his shirt confirming he has cast his vote. The whole day for this Chevrolet luxury car driver of Double Tree Hilton Hotel has been very special.

The Egyptian immigrant, who came from Cairo and has been living in Charlotte for over two decades, told The Nation ‘it was an honour to vote’ in the US presidential election.

“Your vote can change things for the better. I took 25 minutes to read the ballot form and understand it. Then I cast the vote. I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton because I believe she is a better candidate than Donald Trump. The rest of the votes I cast to elect members from both parties so that the best people may come forward,” Sherif confidently said.

American citizens are given the choice of early voting and absentee voting. But most of the populace is confused about whom to vote. The 2016 elections are a test of the democratic system of the United States of America.

Democrats are urging their voters to go for early voting that started on October 20 and will continue until November 5. Republican who would mostly vote on the election day are also asking supporters to vote early, especially in the swing state of North Carolina.

In 1980 presidential election minorities comprised less than 10 percent of voters compared with 26 percent in 2012. Minorities in 2012 comprised 26 percent of total population. This year the number is much higher, and the election may change the political landscape for good.

The majority of the people that the scribe met with are confused who to vote for. Trump is neck-and-neck against Hillary, and neither of them is favourite. But the overall turnout is expected to be larger than before – around 65 to 70 percent – in view of political scientists that this scribe met.

Both Democrats and Republicans are going an extra mile, and running door-to-door campaigns as well as calling people on phone. Both parties have thousands of volunteers and paid staff working round the clock.

Witnessing all this happening while participating in a programme, organised by East West Centre for journalists of Asia Pacific countries to provide them an insight into the US election process, was quite enriching and enlightening experience for this scribe.

It is not only the president and vice president who are elected during these elections, but members of House of Representatives and Senate as well as governors of many states, Mayors of many cities, District Court judges, county commissioners and many other public service posts are also chosen by the citizens.

The key minorities in USA include African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. The African American community is this year running ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign against racial profiling, police brutality and racial inequality in the country.

“We have such vast number of issues. There is need to change rules of engagement. The riots in Charlotte have opened up conversations,” says Charlotte Public Works CEO Patrick Graham.

“The same hateful rhetoric is going on in the speeches of candidates. Same, as it was 100 years ago. It was being said indoors then; now Trump is openly saying it,” he was of the view.

African American cab driver Abab, who mostly works uptown, was angry at both political parties. “What is new that they are offering? They are just making promises that are unlikely to be fulfilled. I haven’t decided whom to give my vote. Perhaps, I may not even cast it,” he said.

Muslims across the USA are worried about the Trump rhetoric against them and are unlikely to vote for him. Many of them have lost their interest in election.

Afzal Khan, who runs limousine service, is disappointed by his party – Democrats. “In last two elections of Barack Obama my wife and I actively participated. We even convinced others to vote for him. This time we plan to do no such thing for Hillary. She does not deserve it. Obama just wants his torch to pass on to her,” he said.

Traditionally the Hispanics have mostly been pro-Democrats, but not all of them are going to vote for Hillary. Many members of this fastest growing community could ignore Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, as now they are US citizens and issues like health, education and social security affect them as much as to the other Americans.

Hispanic Tamara Gomez, who has not cast her vote until now, is student of International Law at Queens University of Charlotte. She migrated with her family from Argentina. “We are Catholic and conservative. My mom voted for Hillary but I am not going to do so. Most of the members of our church are voting for Trump. They think he will bring change in the USA,” she said.

“Hillary is sly and foxy. I don’t like her, nor do my friends. She should not become president only for the reason that she is a woman. She does not deserve to be elected,” she added.

“We Hispanics sometimes face discrimination. When I go out of campus I wear jeans and shirt as white boys stare at us or make comments because of my Hispanic complexion,” Tamara said.

Another student of the same varsity, Rebecca Carlo, who is white and was born in North Carolina, says she hates Hillary but would vote for her as the other candidate in her eyes is worse. “Your vote can change course of things. Therefore, I am these days studying the profiles of candidates and will vote for only those who may be good for the country.

“In my family some are voting for Trump and others for Hillary. We have hot debates at the dinner table. Same is the case with our congregation members,” Rebecca said.

The polarisation between both parties has reached the point of no return. There is no spirit of compromise visible. This is likely to continue even after elections whosoever wins. The rallies are being constantly held but only in a small number of states including the swing states. The enthusiasm and fervour is visible in both parties’ rallies. In Trump’s rallies, it is more though.

The other day Vice President Joe Bidden addressed a rally in Charlotte where he promised that if Hillary came to power she will build the long neglected middle class.

“I am tired of hearing that China will overtake us. When European Union was made it was being said that they will overtake us. It never happened. Now China too cannot overtake us because we have cheaper and quality energy that they don’t have. I assure you that 54 percent companies are coming back,” Joe said.

His rally was held only for the party’s motivators and top members whom he and Senate candidate Deborah Ross urged to work hard for early voting.

Trump’s rally on Thursday evening was more of a public show that was attended by families. The presidential hopeful spoke against the illegal immigrants and the security threat that they pose at times. He openly called Hillary a cheat and crooked woman. He announced that if he came to power he would cancel any illegal executive order of President Obama.

“We have lost $6 trillion in Middle East conflicts in which so many lives have also been lost. With that amount of money we could have rebuilt America, which would have been safe and great again,” Trump said. He also promised to suspend all funding for Syrian refugee programme.

This election is going to be the most interesting one in American history. Hillary’s support lies in cities while Trump is mostly banking on the support of rural areas and small towns that have been ignored by both the parties in the past. The canvassing process will continue until November 8. Both the parties have arranged free rides for voters.