hillary clinton usa.jpg
Photograph: EPA/TANNEN MAURY

A steady stream of voters filed into polling stations Tuesday in southern California to cast ballots in one of the final state primaries in the US presidential election.

Voters hurried in and out of the polling station at Marine Park, a neighbourhood in Santa Monica, after Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton urged voters to head to the polls even after press reports that she had secured enough delegates needed to win the left-leaning party's presidential nomination.

Lareen Russell did exactly as Clinton had asked and said she voted for Clinton "because it is time for a woman in the White House." She told dpa that US Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, "has some great ideas, but I think it is time for him to back off. Clinton has the experience."

A delegate count conducted by the Associated Press showed Clinton had reached the threshold of 2,383 delegates to clinch the Democratic Party's nomination, which will make her the first woman nominated for US president by a major party.

"We're flattered, @AP, but we've got primaries to win," Clinton wrote on Twitter, urging people California and the other states where voting is taking place Tuesday - in New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Mexico - to go to the polls.

Alison Difranco, 38, said she voted for Clinton as "the best candidate to beat Donald Trump."

As people turned out to vote, some boys at a playground nearby screamed "vote for Trump," but no one interviewed said they had.

Two other voters who cast their ballots at Marine Park voted for Sanders. One of them, bartender James Young, 31, said Sanders "seems to be more genuine with this beliefs," while Clinton has a reputation for "doing everything for the corporations."

Sanders has been campaigning hard for votes in the final primaries, especially in California, which will award 546 delegates.

Sanders hopes that Tuesday victories including in California will help him convince superdelegates that he is the better choice against Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs objected to the AP's delegate count, and said the media was ignoring the Democratic National Committee's instruction against counting the votes of so-called superdelegates before they vote at the party's convention.

Superdelegates will not officially cast their votes until July 25 in Philadelphia, though an overwhelming majority have publicly endorsed Clinton. Briggs said the superdelegates, who are mostly Democratic elected officials and party officers, could still change their minds.

A few superdelegates remain publicly uncommitted, including President Barack Obama. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama "at this point" was not ready to make an endorsement.

Only reversals by hundreds of the party officials who serve as superdelegates could keep Clinton off the November general election ballot.

The first polls to close will be those in New Jersey on the Atlantic Coast at 8 pm (0000 GMT). Polls show Clinton has a strong lead in New Jersey, which will award 142 delegates. An average of recent New Jersey polls gave her a 20 percentage point lead.

Sanders hopes for a victory in California, where an average of recent polls shows Clinton with a lead of just 2 percentage points.

Republicans were holding primaries Tuesday in five states - New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and California - adding to Trump's delegate total.

Only a June 14 primary among Democrats in Washington, DC, remains after Tuesday's contests.

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