Absentee Ballots, Voting Abroad

Travel Nov 13, 2016 No Comments

By Ben Gray

Ahhh, the right and privilege to vote.

That most basic civic duty takes on a whole new meaning when you live abroad.

Up until this year, the most adversity I ever had to go through to cast my ballot was a five-minute stroll to the polling station. (OK, there was a half-hour wait in line during the 2008 presidential election).

This year was just a bit different.

The story starts back in late June, well before we packed up and moved to Jerusalem, and just concluded last week.

So, here’s what it took to cast our ballots:

  • In June (before we left the U.S), Adrainne registered for absentee ballots
  • Mid-September our absentee ballots arrived via email (while they came to our email, they had to be printed and snail-mailed back)
  • Asking around, we found out that we could drop our ballot off at the U.S Consulate and they would deliver them to Georgia for us
  • While out for a walk, we stopped by the Consulate General’s office and asked a guard if this is where we dropped off our ballots… Nope, wrong location, he said. The actual location was on the other side of town
  • I emailed the elections office because the return address wasn’t provided with our ballot
  • I emailed the Consulate to see if I could drop off Adrainne’s ballot, or if she needed to be there and to ask how I could pay the U.S postage for the ballots (the consulate only delivers them to the U.S, then they go in the general U.S mail)
  • A couple of days later I received a reply from the Consulate that I had to resend my email to a different address (apparently they couldn’t just forward it for me)
  • I resent the email to the Consulate
  • A couple of days later the Consulate replied that I could drop them both off and sent a link to print a postage paid envelope
  • I searched the church office to find four envelopes for the ballots
  • Adrainne and I each filled out our ballot, sealed them in blank envelopes, filled out oaths and put everything into the postpaid envelopes
  • I took a long lunch and hiked the 1.5hr roundtrip to the correct Consulate location and dropped off the ballots

All this and we didn’t even get “I Voted” stickers!


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