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Voting From Abroad?

I have been more than a little stressed about voting from abroad. I am like many of you who feel casting my ballot this year is more important than ever. Since I was of age, I have never missed an election. Even when I was in Barbados during the 2004 election I was able to hit the the Board of elections office in downtown New York and cast my ballot a head of time.

But living in Paris this year, heading downtown is not an option. As I prepared to request my absentee ballot, I have also been following closely the articles on states that are illegally purging voters’ names etc. Now I have a little more than just paranoia.

I am getting a little ahead of myself since first I have to request my ballot. What does it take to vote abroad?  I found this great site fvap.gov that walks you through the process. I almost had a panic attack when I realized that there are only 44 days until the election! Less by the time you read this blog! I could just kick myself for waiting until the last minute!

Fortunately for me the process at first glance didn’t seem overly complicated. Are you a citizen living outside the US? Yes..Request and absentee ballot? Yes. State? New York. Then it took me to the NYC page where I had to complete a short form. Painless so far. Then I got to line 2D, race. I thought, “is this the line that some states are using to disqualify voters?” The good news is that I was not required to answer. I finished completing the form and was ready to press the send button when I realized the only way to register was to print and mail the form.

Oh God, my paranoia started again. First of all this would require me going to the French Post office which ironically for good or for bad is exactly like the US Postal system ( I will leave the judgment call to you) to mail the letter. So as I give my envelope with my precious ballot enclosed to the postal worker, I can’t help feeling unsure. I mean he seemed nice enough but he didn’t speak English. I begin to second guess myself.  Did I remember to write “USA” on the envelop? Did I double check the address? This is the most important document that I have trusted to any postal system in my entire life. No seriously, I am not exaggerating.

Think about it, with online bill pay, electronic transmission of taxes and fax machines, you can almost instantaneously know if your correspondence was received. It was a little more than unsettling to entrust my ballot request to the bleak mail abyss.

Despite my reservations and since I have no other choice, I mail the letter. What happens next? The French Post office sends it to the US and the US Postal System delivers it to Borough Board of Elections office on New York’s Varick street. They ideally register my request and then send me an absentee ballot.

After mailing the letter, I still feel anxious as I am left to play the waiting game. A friend comforts me by saying that if I don’t receive my ballot I can always go vote at the French consulate.  For right now I am keeping my fingers crossed. To be continued…

-French Kissed

Want to feel like you’re traveling without moving? Read the rest of French Kissed’s experiences here.

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