PENAMPANG 26/10/2012: As Malaysians are eagerly waiting for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to announce the date of the country’s 13th general election, the United States of America is also gearing up for its presidential election which will be held on November 6.
In an effort to create a better understanding of the US election, the Sabah State Library and Lincoln Resource Center, US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur organised a briefing session here yesterday.
Ms Bonnie S Gutman, the US Embassy’s Counsellor for Public Affairs and Dr Francis Ward of the US Foreign Service (Rtd), were invited to speak at the briefing which was attended by students, members of political parties and the public.
According to Bonnie, the Lincoln Centre here had been getting some questions about the US election so it was decided that officers from the US embassy would be invited to come and answer their questions.
“The US election is gaining attention nowadays and we hope to be able to explain about our election system and how the system works. Sabah is the first state we have visited for this briefing.
“There are other officers going to several other states and they have given similar presentations to several other groups so that they have a better understanding of the US election,” she said.
Dr Francis and Bonnie explained that the US presidential election is held in November and each term lasts four years.
US citizens cast their votes on polling day which is November 6 this year and the ballots will then be tallied. Then in December, the president and vice president of the United States are elected by the Electoral College.
Their votes are officially counted in January where the Vice President sits in as President unseals the envelopes in front of the US senate, Dr Francis said.
US citizens, Bonnie said, also have the option of casting absentee ballots ahead of polling day. The time frame varies from state to state and some may be able to cast their votes two weeks before the actual polling day, she said.
She also said that among key issues most Americans would like to see addressed are the need to create more job opportunities, reduce federal deficit, better health care and lowering taxes.
Bonnie also advised voters in Malaysia to exercise their rights on polling day as every vote counts.
“Never think that your vote does not matter because your vote always matters,” she said.
Meanwhile to the question on the instances of electoral fraud, Dr Francis said it does not officially happen in the US but stressed that it is something everyone has to protect against.
He was of the opinion that those who go through fraudulent practices are those who really want to win an election.
On the debates which the presidential candidates usually participate in, Dr Francis said that a poll is taken after the debates to see which candidate has garnered the support of the people.
“However, the results of the poll may not be the same as the results on the actual polling day,” he said.
Americans will be casting their votes on November 6 for either incumbent Barrack Obama who is running for a re-election or Mike Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.
by Nancy Lai