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Americana - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Americana
I've just held in my hand a State of Massachusetts ballot paper for tomorrow's elections. Neat, huh?

To me, that bit of paper was interesting, topical, a window into another world. To my colleague Paul, it's the right to participate in his country's politics.

When he phoned three weeks ago to ask when the ballot papers were being sent out to Americans abroad, he was told no problem, everything under control, we don't have the papers yet, but we'll send them out when we do. When there was no sign of the papers a week later, he phoned again. This time, they'd sent them out, but they weren't sure when, "but the line under your name means we've sent you one". Checked the address, it sounded fine. But still no ballot papers. Nobody knows why they didn't arrive. Nobody seemed too interested. No, they couldn't send them again.

Friday night, Paul spent 2 hours on the phone persuading the powers that be to FedEx him replacement ballot papers. In the end they agreed; the papers had to be put in an envelope and sealed in view of official witnesses, and given to a uniformed FedEx courier. They turned up here at work this morning. The FedEx chap was supposed to take the marked papers straight back by return, but when he arrived he said he couldn't do that, because he didn't have an envelope. The return envelope turned out to be inside the delivered one. Paul's on the phone to FedEx now trying to convince them that our place of work exists, in the hope that they'll get somebody out to pick up the marked ballot papers. He's given the address five times already.

Still, at least he managed to register as a postal voter abroad using the online registration system. The one that was apparently shut down in several countries "for security reasons".

Realistically, voting in Kerry's state, Paul's vote probably isn't going to be crucial. But how many other Democrats abroad have failed to receive their ballot papers, and how many would bother to keep phoning and kicking up a fuss to win the right to vote? How many people would just shrug their shoulders, curse the mail, and let it slide? In my colleague's place, would I put the effort in?
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Comments
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: November 1st, 2004 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Northampton Borough Council disenfranchised me in the European Elections (cock-up rather than conspiracy, I think), and I had a go at them twice, but after that I gave up and let it lie.
wechsler From: wechsler Date: November 1st, 2004 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Previously, I might not have fought that hard. But were I voting in this election, I would have done what Paul did (for which he has my thanks). Equally, if Labour do try and pull the apparent fast-one they're planning for our next election, and I don't get a paper, there will be hell to pay.
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: November 1st, 2004 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, nobody's told me about any fast ones, and I think I'd know. Still, looking at the polls I guess Michael Howard must be looking around for some way to claim it's a fix when he loses just as badly as William Hague, yeah.

I'm still a fan of voting by turning up on the day, although postal votes have always been pretty efficient here ime, although I guess we don't have as many people who live abroad in outlandish places and badly want to vote as the US do.
minnesattva From: minnesattva Date: November 1st, 2004 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)
But how many other Democrats abroad have failed to receive their ballot papers

::raises hand:: Me! Me!

Everyone I tell about this says "Yeah, but if you told them you were a Republican they'd be sure to get it to you right away!" Even if they're wrong, such universal cynicism doesn't speak well for the rest of the world's faith in our voting process. (Not that I have any faith in it myself, I hasten to add. But that's different; I'm not the rest of the world.)

and how many would bother to keep phoning and kicking up a fuss to win the right to vote? How many people would just shrug their shoulders, curse the mail, and let it slide?

::hangs head:: Bad Holly.

And I apparently live in a "swing state" this time (we used to be the Midwest's haven of liberalism, but last time we elected a bunch of Republicans to replace people like Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura...) so maybe it actually would matter. I don't know.
verlaine From: verlaine Date: November 1st, 2004 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I didn't do the hard work necessary to make sure I got my Florida ballot paper on time, sadly. I'm feeling very guilty about now as a result.
filecoreinuse From: filecoreinuse Date: November 1st, 2004 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Does it actually say

[ ] Bush
[ ] !Bush

on it? :)
From: hmw26 Date: November 1st, 2004 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
But how many other Democrats abroad have failed to receive their ballot papers

Me, for one.

and how many would bother to keep phoning and kicking up a fuss to win the right to vote

Again, me. But, as I say here, I'm also concerned that others would not have done the same.
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