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International Observers Witness U.S. Elections


A number of Africans are in the United States observing the elections. One of them is John Phiri of Zambia, the executive director of an international NGO, Global Justice Zambia. Phir, who is here courtesy of the United States State Department, has been to several states and is now in Cincinnati, Ohio. He told VOA English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that he is among many international observers here to see how American democracy works.

“We are looking at electoral processes that are going on in the U.S. and also to get exposed to how the [political] campaigns are running, what issues are going on in these campaigns and make our own observations during this electoral process.”

Phiri said when he and other observers first arrived in the U.S. they had their orientation in Washington, DC. “Our first point was Washington, DC, where we were exposed to a lot of information and met different people. Later, we were able to go to battleground states. In my case I went to Minnesota, which was then a battleground state, although it is now leaning democratic.” A battleground state is one in which no candidate has a clear majority and could swing either way. Phiri is now in another battleground state, Ohio.

He says he is surprised at how each state in the country has its own elections board and little role of the federal government in the organization of the elections. “In my country, Zambia, we have an electoral commission that overseas elections in the whole country. The [electoral] system here has kind of shocked me. It is really interesting. There is a major difference.”

He hailed the orderly conduct of the voters and noted that many of them looked energetic and enthusiastic.

Phiri said while in the United States he has noted how eager people are to participate in the electoral process and predicted that this may be a historic election.

Voting is underway and a high turnout is expected.