Tomorrow is election day at home, and despite updating all my registration requirements over two years ago when I was home, my vote ain’t gonna be counted. I updated my address in Wisconsin. The people in the office chuckled a bit when I went in to take care of this stuff so much in advance. I said that I knew I’d be out of the country and wanted it squared ahead of time. They told me I could send my ballot via email. Rock on.
Then two months ago they emailed to tell me I can’t email my ballot any longer unless I am permanently out of the country, and if my status of living outside of the bounds of the federal limits were to be permanent, I am not eligible to vote for local office. Hmm. First off, this to me seems like partial disenfranchisement at least, and furthermore, what does permanent mean? Who never plans on going home? Is DOMA gonna get overturned at some point? How do I answer this “permanent” question? The language offered me by the election office was of no use when I followed up to try to clarify: If your intent is to never return, you are permanently overseas and can vote by email, otherwise you cannot. My insistence that I wasn’t certain and that the very outcome of this vote could help determine my ability (or at least, the desirability – e.g. the Defense of Marriage Act as my fiancée is a Chilean woman) of returning home was totally lost in the exchange. I was told they couldn’t help me any further.
I decided I didn’t want to declare myself “permanently” oversees and in some Orwellian twist in the future, lose my citizenship. Stranger things have happened. Let’s go paper ballot. I mailed all of the filled out forms I had to send in order to “apply” for my paper ballot, a little worried that in all the back and forth it wouldn’t arrive on time. I carefully researched and weighed my options, completed the little black arrows that run from one side to the other and was almost ready. I only had to find “an adult US citizen” to witness my signing of the ballot. Bollocks. Okay, so I dug me up one of those, arranged to meet said citizen and did the deed. I signed, sealed and mailed my ballot and it arrived last week. Hooray!
Nope. I got an email on Thursday saying I had failed to sign my ballot. I knew I signed it! There was a witness! I was informed then that I was supposed to sign the other side, too. I then had three options; two of them involved coming into the office and signing before or on election day. The other was that it be mailed back to me to sign, and then I mail it back again. I responded that I clearly cannot be in the office on or before election day HENCE the absentee ballot. I think the person on the receiving end was irritated with me, taking my tone as sarcastic. No ma’am. Just stating the obvious. I then asked her to mail it me, half laughing to myself. She wrote back. There is no way it will get to you in time. I thought well, duh. Why didn’t you just email me in the first place to say that due to last minute changes to voting regulations and my failure to sign my ballot multiple times has resulted in a big waste of my time and my disenfranchisement? Isn’t that just easier to say?