I’m a bad citizen.

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.

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13 responses to “I’m a bad citizen.

  1. It’s a free country. Your freedom to vote also includes a freedom not to vote. But my grandmother told me that when she was 18, she couldn’t vote because she was a woman, and to her, casting a vote was important. For that reason, I always vote.

  2. It’s an interesting question of whether it is a right or a responsibility. I know that if I was in America today, living in my old neighborhood, I would likely have walked over to the polling place and done it, although I still don’t know for sure who I would have voted for. It was all the “in advance” bureaucracy and uncertainty that made it worse this year. And I guess philosophically I know why the do it the way they do it but I do think that perhaps they should stop and re-examine the thing where everyone has to queue for hours and all on the same day. I’m all for wider access to mail ballots and voting over several days to keep it from being a circus and a huge time-sink for people who actually and truly need to work on election day.

  3. I had similar issues trying to register from here to vote back home in the UK. I too gave up – they really didn’t make it easy at all, and now I’ve been out of the UK for too long to be allowed to vote there anyway. That’s one of the reasons I became a US citizen – so that at least I could vote somewhere if I wanted to. And of course this time around, I definitely wanted to!

  4. > (Although this being England, they automatically assumed I would have voted for Obama, and I guess we’ll never know.

    Gosh! Did they? Ididn’t.

    *Later*: I’ve just seen the results; it appears that Obama has won. Please may I say to our American cousins, “Welcome back into the world!”

  5. We never left the world, in fact some would argue that we rule it. Just because Europeans feel relieved because they didn’t like our president for the last eight years (and remember, most Americans didn’t either!) does not mean that anything has fundamentally changed in the last week.

  6. > in fact some would argue that we rule it.

    And some would argue that you can’t even rule yourselves!

    > does not mean that anything has fundamentally changed in the last week.

    From what I have seen, there appears to be a huge number of people who would disagree with you about this.

  7. Well there has been a lot of overdramatic fawning in the press this week but the people of America are the same people today as they were when they woke up two or three mornings ago prior to the election. Yes they voted for a very different president than in the last election, but that’s an evolutionary thing, not something worthy of a sudden “welcome back to the world” comment. America will vote in another Republican president some time and then they do not deserve to get kicked back out of the world.

  8. I’d have to agree – there have been plenty of us living in this VERY real world for the last 8 years. As absolutely perfect as the rest of the world is (wink, nudge), I’m sure that my imperfect life has been apart of this ever changing globe for a very long time.

  9. I am sure you’re both right, and that what is perceived by the rest of the world as American ignorance and arrogance will continue … But perhaps to a decreasing extent.

    For a non-Republican view on this, see http://veblen21.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/never/
    — only one view, of course, but one which seems to me to be reasonably typical.

  10. This here is not a Republican view, I was a member of the US democratic party when I lived in the US and donated to Kerry’s campaign. I just don’t think Obama is sufficiently experienced.

  11. I think you may be missing the point – illustrated by the fact that you felt the need to post a non-republican view. I am a yellow dog democrat and have read every bit of tear inducing prose in the last couple of days, crying my way through every news cast. My point is that this election illuminates what we always knew was true of our country and a good majority of our people.

  12. I think you may both be missing the point: I nowhere mentioned any assumption I might have about what party you each support. I just happen to know that the blogger I gave a link to is not a Republican (I know him personally), and said so, and that is all I intended to convey.

  13. Pingback: And the Minnesota Senate election drags on… « Not From Around Here

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