Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Expat's Election Day Confessional

I waited too long to send in my absentee ballot.

One of the first things my wife and I did when we arrived in Switzerland was log onto votefromabroad.org and request our absentee ballots. But last week I called the U.S. consulate in Geneva to ask them when I could bring by my ballot and was told, “You’re a bit late for that.” (To add insult to injury, the guy who answered the phone didn’t even sound American. He was either
 French with an English accent or the other way around.)

He suggested I send my ballot by DHL or FedEx. I had wanted to use the consulate because postage is paid as long as it’s dropped off at a U.S. military base or branch of the U.S. embassy. But I was willing to do what it took to make sure my vote was counted.

Then I discovered that sending my ballot by courier would be 50 francs – about $45. While that’s a trivial price to pay for participating in democracy, two things occurred to me:

  1. I was voting with an Illinois ballot. Not exactly a battleground state
  2. Despite being united in all things, my wife and I voted for different candidates this year. So we effectively cancelled each other. (This is probably the Swiss neutrality taking its toll.)

If I lived in a battleground state, there would have been no question. But as it is, I decided not to pay $45 to have my wife and I cancel each other’s votes in Obama’s home state.

I was really sick about this for a day or two. And I’m embarrassed to the point that I consider lying every time a coworker asks if I’ve voted. But I’m more at ease airing my mistake., and vowing to send in my next ballot much, much earlier.

Go ahead. Call me a hypocrite. Call me ungrateful. Call me un-America. Just wire your 50 francs to my Swiss bank account when you do.

4 comments:

Jer Jensen said...

Spend the money you saved on something American...like root beer or nachos.

Mama Mia said...

Ouch...I would have done the same thing...live and learn!

Peter Carnevale said...

I did the same when I lived in Canada - VA was going Bush no matter what.

So don't feel so bad Greg. If you lived in Ohio or Florida I'd berate you.

silver (ag) said...

This was the BEST freakin post I could have woken up to today. If there is 1 thing I will remember about the 2008 Elections (aside from the fact that I spent several months as a junkie, several more in political news exile, followed by several months as a recovering political junkie 12 stepper, the loss of a major political reporting icon: Tim Russert, and YOUR email scolding me for not holding up to my birthright & patronly duty) it will be this.... YOUR VOTE WAS AS VALID AS A BOX OF COCOA FOR PETS.