There is absolutely no excuse in the United States of America for anyone to stand in line for hours to vote. While I am fairly confident that a majority of Americans want, and plan to vote for Barack Obama, and many already have, there's absolutely no guarantee that tens of thousands of voters tomorrow won't experience a few problems.
Two-thirds of voters will mark their choice with a pencil on a paper ballot that is counted by an optical scanning machine, a method considered far more reliable and verifiable than touch screens. But paper ballots bring their own potential problems, voting experts say.
The scanners can break down, leading to delays and confusion for poll workers and voters. And the paper ballots of about a third of all voters will be counted not at the polling place but later at a central county location. That means that if a voter has made an error — not filling in an oval properly, for example, a mistake often made by the kind of novice voters who will be flocking to the polls — it will not be caught until it is too late. As a result, those ballots will be disqualified.
There are a lot of dynamics in play and any number of scenarios could unfold during the day, up to and including some last-minute decisions by voters who have been straddling the fence, or voters who planned to vote for Obama but have cold feet once in the privacy of the booth.
Aside from all this uncertainty, my greatest fear is that the results could tighten enough in battleground states to make calling the election impossible before the wee hours of the morning, or worse. It all depends on how long it takes to tally up all these paper ballots.
I've waited eight long grueling years for this moment. I would love to have an answer before I go to bed Tuesday night. That may be some extreme wishful thinking.