Voters in Afghanistan are now headed to the polls for their first ever presidential election. Officials say more than 12-million Afghans have registered to vote, despite threats of violence from Islamic fundamentalists supporting the ousted Taliban regime.
Organizers are hopeful about the turnout and Oklahoma soldiers just back from Afghanistan are watching the fruits of their labors unfold. News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin sat down with one soldier who sees a bright future for the Afghan people.
Hopper Smith is familiar with the power of a vote, both from holding state office and holding a weapon on the front lines. After 10 months overseas helping train the Afghan national army, that nation's election is a personal dream realized. â€œThis will be the first democratic form of government that Afghanistan has ever had and that to me is amazing."
The election comes three years after US led forces invaded the nation and ousted the oppressive Taliban government for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden. Now ballots are transported to remote parts of the country, where 40% of registered voters are women.
Hopper says any turnout at the polls is encouraging. â€œI think the right to vote is new for them is a new concept for them in a sense it's kind of a western concept." Smith resigned from his own elected post as an Oklahoma state representative when his National Guard unit was called up.
Smith's current political aspirations are for the Afghan people. â€œA free society, a free economy, a free people, participating in government." It's an enthusiasm he hopes will be catching not only for these first time voters, but for Iraqis who are scheduled to cast their ballots in January.