You may have heard that the U.S. is having a national election soon.
I knew I wasn’t going to be in the U.S. on Election Day, November 3rd, and so I generated and sent, using the VoteFromAbroad.org website, a “Federal Post Card Application” for an absentee ballot. I discussed this in a post here back in July.
In the U.S. the voting process is controlled individually by each state. Elections are administered by localities: counties, cities, and towns. I vote in Virginia (officially, a “Commonwealth”, but let’s not be snooty – it’s a “State”), which is not one of the enlightened states that allows voting by email, so I knew I would need to receive and complete a physical, paper ballot, and then send it in.
On September 16th, I received an email from my election office with a link that let me access and complete my ballot online, then download it as part of my “ballot package”. This was a .zip file containing five .pdf files, including:
• Ballot processing instructions – These were fairly clear but I noted that some of the terminology used here was inconsistent with that on the other materials.
• My completed ballot.
• A print-and-fold envelope, with legalese and lines for my and my witness’s signatures. I used this option, by printing and folding the page on the dotted lines to create an envelope. Then I placed my ballot inside, taped the folded enveloped shut, and signed. Stern warnings said nothing else could go into the envelope.
• If I had wanted to use my own envelope instead, I could have printed the “completed front of envelope” file and taped it on my envelope. It was already filled-in with the address of my election office (but, oddly, that address lacked some details in the address sent to me by that office in the email containing the link). It was already franked for free U.S. postage.
• If I had wanted to use my own envelope instead, I could have also printed the “completed back of envelope” file and taped it on. It contained the legalese and signature lines mentioned previously.
Once my completed ballot was safely in its envelope, I went down to the local DHL Shipping agent in the Ryman Stationery store. They prepared an DHL Express Document for me and, after I double-checked all the shipping information and handed over £30, my ballot was on its way to my U.S. election office.
Yes, the price was a bit steep, and, no, there was no cheaper, slower delivery option. But, by using DHL, I avoided the whole U.S. Postal Service delivery quagmire and could track the progress of the package online, so I was OK with it.
And 31 hours after I sent it off, my ballot was received in the U.S. at my election office and will, I have every confidence, be properly counted. The city where I vote only has 10,000 registered voters, so I’m pretty sure counting will go smoothly.
Bottom Line: I Voted!