I’ve read all the expat blogs in the last few weeks, Americans sending off their overseas ballots for election day today. Well, I didn’t vote. I couldn’t work it out. The ever increasing and ever annoying emails and later phone calls and texts from Democrats Abroad UK did not actually help me to sort out what state I could legally vote in.
See, before I moved to England, things were a bit complicated. I was living in non-Minnesota, working a job I hated, and since I knew I would go somewhere else at the end of my year contract (I even had one offer by the time I left, which was neither in Minnesota or where I had been living in not-Minnesota), I never switched over my driver’s license, car plates, and most importantly, voter registration. So my last voter registration was back in Minnesota, at the apartment where I lived in grad school. When I left the hideous job, I spent eight weeks in Europe, which included my job interview here (although the eight weeks had been planned before I landed the interview, strangely enough, and it just got tacked on to the trip) and then a few weeks at my parents’ place back in Minnesota on my return–knowing I had the job in the UK and waiting for my work permit and visa. Now my sister thinks that because I was there for around the month, I might be back to Minnesota voting status as long as I was there thirty days. That would certainly be easier, since my last voting activities were there. But every time I got to the drop down box for the “fill in the blanks application for overseas ballot” I would hesitate over the “state of last residence” and not know what to do. Had I switched my alliances over to not-Minnesota, where I last actually lived, it would have been easy. But it’s not. And I gave up trying to sort it out. My bad.
So here’s where I switch gears and slightly rant about America instead of the UK, for a change. Why the heck does it matter what state I last lived in? It’s a federal election. Of course I know the answer, it has to do with the Electoral College–another thing that really gets my blood pressure up. Kill all the nonsense of the electors and state-by-state results, have a popular vote across the country by simple majority, and stop asking me what state I last lived in. Because I don’t know.
Although as my sister pointed out, she worked hard to get her overseas ballot in China because she’s voted in every presidential election that she could. And here again, I duck and confess, I’m in my thirties and have only voted for president once for sure (2000; I honestly can’t remember about 2004). And in 2000 I protest-voted for Nader (a fact my sister pointed out to any Republican who would listen when we were at W’s inaugural ball in DC, but that’s a different story!)
I don’t know what has happened. I have been put off by the long lines, totally uninspired by the process, lacking confidence in party politics since I tend towards socially liberal but fiscally conservative, and somehow I’ve been generally apathetic about the role of president. Again, my bad. In my defense, I tried to vote in the other elections, the ones for governors, representatives, mayors and local council people, even judges.
But I know. I’m a bad citizen. Don’t yell at me or scold me any more than the people to whom I’ve confessed this in person already have. (Although this being England, they automatically assumed I would have voted for Obama, and I guess we’ll never know. As I told my sister earlier today, had a certain H. Clinton been in the running this might have been a very different post!) I couldn’t even stand to watch the election coverage on BBC at the gym. This is going to be a long night.