Voting from overseas


I admit that I’ve been somewhat reluctant to delve into the anticipated difficulties of voting in the U.S. while I’ve traveled. I figured the process would be just too cumbersome to handle. I was wrong.

In the past, while living in the U.S., I’ve been earnest in voting at least in national elections, if not in all the local voting that occurred in Sarasota, Fla., the 11 years I resided there. I was also a pretty faithful voter during my 22 years living in Atlanta. During all that time, however, I never had cast an absentee ballot, always dutifully going to my local polling place, usually before going to work in the morning, and proudly wearing the sticker they give you saying “I voted.”

I have voted for Republicans and Democrats, weighing candidates’ positions on the matters I thought important. Sometimes, I admit, my votes were simply against the incumbent, unless he or she had distinguished themselves, to my  way of thinking. In 2010, however, I missed my opportunity to vote, having relocated to Costa Rica and thinking that I was there for the rest of my life.

This year, though, I decided I wanted to vote again. but I didn’t know how, so far from home here in Indonesia. So I went to the Internet. Here is what I found.

VotefromAbroad.org is an extremely useful and easy-to-navigate site (tagline of the site is “Absentee ballots for Americans”). There are easy-to-understand instructions and to-the-point directions on absentee balloting, whether you are Republican or Democrat. The site, incidentally, is the work of the Democratic Party or an affiliate, but this doesn’t matter. The forms and information can be used by any registered American voter, independents and Libertarians included. I imagine the GOP has something similar online.

The site runs you through a series of questions, such as when you last voted and where, what your last address was when you voted, and so on. When you are finished filling in the form, you can print it out with all the boxes filled in. You can name individuals you want to vote for as president, senator, congressman, state legislator, judge, whatever, or you can request an absentee ballot from the local supervisor of elections in your former district. Or you can just vote a straight ticket on the form, or write someone in.

Then you have two choices: either fax the form and your vote in or snail mail it in to the local supervisor of elections. The site provides the correct mailing address to do the latter.

If you are not registered to vote, the site assists you with this function, as well.

Given all the voter suppression that is going on right now in the States, and because I didn’t vote in 2010, I hope I am still registered to vote in Florida. I still have a Florida driver’s license, so this should not be a problem, but you never know nowadays.

By the way, voting by absentee ballot does not require a picture ID, which is what all those new voter suppression laws in Republican-controlled states are requiring. You just sign the form and you’re good to go. With only about half of eligible voters actually registered to vote in the U.S., and with only about half of those people actually voting, it is beyond me why anyone would want to keep Americans from voting. I’m probably just naive about such things.

I’m mailing my ballot in Thursday from Singapore. The boss and I are going across the strait to restock the restaurant’s meat supplies, something that is done about every two weeks. We bring empty suitcases and backpacks and fill them at wholesale outlets.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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