As America chooses its next President, I for one feel that the presidential race is as clear as night and day, as Black and White. And in keeping with the analogy, that means voting for the Black guy, Barack Obama.
But I am worried.
The headline story on the most recent edition of Time Magazine was titled, 7 Things That Could Go Wrong on Election Day, and the article details several alarming facts that threaten to jeopardize the sprit of democracy that the United States was founded on.
Personally, I believe there is one serious problem with the US election system: electronic voting machines. Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois and journalist Greg Palast have been harping on the subject for years now. Electronic polling stations are, by nature, more likely to produce errors than traditional paper ballots, but the inherent risks associated with electronic balloting systems can best be measured when considering the interests of the company responsible for making and distributing the ballot boxes: Diebold.
Deep down, I worry that this election will not be determined by the votes of American citizens, but rather by the algorithms in Diebold’s ballot boxes. It is no secret that the largest supporter of Diebold is the Republican Party. Republicans have been directly funding the company since they burst on to the scene with their electronic ballot boxes. Just as clear is that Diebold ballot boxes are easily tampered with. The logical question then becomes, considering that the success of Diebold is directly related to Republican success, does Diebold have any interest in seeing a fair election?
I think the answer is no. From the distribution of these ballot boxes, to the way the votes are registered, to the fiasco that is making sure a citizen’s name matches exactly with the name registered by Diebold, there are plenty of ways for this RNC sponsored company to highjack this election. And that makes me worried.
Unlike in 2000 with Vice-President Al Gore and 2004 with John Kerry, I truly believe that Barack Obama could have an extremely positive impact on the globe as well as America. John McCain, however, is incessantly bad, I am convinced that a large number of the people running and attached to his campaign - including Mrs. Palin - are incompetent, devious, and threaten to further damage the American democracy if elected.
With all of this said, I hope that every single citizen of the United States who wants to see Barack Obama in power, heads to their polling stations today. Unlike in previous three elections, there is the potential for a blow out in 2008; and if a blowout occurs, it will be very hard for Diebold to steal this one from the American people. Again, I am very, very worried.
I am worried because the company that was arguably responsible for eight years of Bush has the chance to make it 12, and the only way it can be avoided is if all those who support the Illinois Senator, deal with two, three, four, and five hour waits to make their vote count. Another useful tactic would be to photograph or document your vote in some way. Certain electronic ballot boxes make a print out of which you selected, but most don’t.
I think that the US and the world as a whole, is at a crossroad. The choice is between change or the status quo. And it is not McCain that represents the status quo, but rather the group of neo-cons that he’s employed to run his campaign. More than anything the world needs America to be restored to a place of hope. And there is no one in the United States more capable of restoring that sentiment than the man who represents the Democratic Party. It is only on a rare occasion, perhaps once in a lifetime, that a person comes along capable of truly changing the course of human history; and Obama represents the most recent incarnation of such influence.
We have just hours left, and I am very, very, very worried. Facing US citizens are two candidates who will guide the United States and by influence, the entire world, for the next four to eight years. Senator Obama, even with the support of the polls, faces an uphill battle, and the only way to help promote the change that he promises and that we need so desperately is to vote and make sure your vote counts correctly.
Go to the polls; please vote, and please vote wisely.
Sadiq Jeru-Ahmed is a New York based community activist and an NSnewstv.com contributor.
The views expressed are those of the contributor.