Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Have You Voted Yet?

Four years ago Kevin and I spent the better part of an afternoon waiting in line with our neighbors to vote in one of the most important elections of our lifetime. I never thought that this year we’d have even more at stake. 

Despite missing the inundation of television ads and the camaraderie of a polling place, this time around we still managed to get swept up in the spirit of democracy. Not surprisingly, exercising your civic duty from 5,000 miles away takes a little extra planning. We started the process in August and wrapped things up in late October. As long as the Embassy keeps up their end of the deal, we care, we count, we voted.

  • Checked the Chicago Election Board website for weeks waiting for the launch of their online system
  • Started paperwork online to register for an Overseas Absentee Ballot
  • Walked over a mile to one of the only working printers in town 
  • Paid to print documents
  • Signed documents
  • Taped completed documents to the front door of my house and waited for enough sun to photograph them (no scanner in town)
  • Processed files in Photoshop to export in PDF format
  • Optimized PDF in Acrobat to make file small enough for email
  • Emailed documents to Chicago Election Board
  • Waited
  • Received link to mark ballot online
  • Rode 6 hours on a bus with sort-of-working air conditioning on a 100 degree day to the capital
  • Rode 1 hour on a bus with no air conditioning on a 100 degree day to the Peace Corps Office
  • Strained brain to remember password to login to the Peace Corps computer system
  • Found email from Chicago Election Board and followed link to mark ballot
  • Voted
  • Started printing election documents
  • Ran out of paper halfway through job
  • Emotionally prepared myself to argue that even though the Volunteer computer lounge had used it’s allotted amount of paper for the week, denying us more would allow the terrorists to win
  • Learned the person in charge of paper was out of the office and received a ream of paper, sans argument
  • Resumed printing
  • Strained brain again in an attempt to remember the words to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American”
  • Gathered documents, headed off in search of a glue stick and scissors
  • Hit pay-dirt when the Peace Corps librarian had appropriately sized envelopes so instead of making envelopes from scratch, we could just glue the official envelope front to a ready-made envelope
  • Assembled envelopes for overseas absentee registration, ballot documents, and ballot
  • Modified a ready-made envelope with scissors and tape so I could fit the ballot envelope inside the ballot document envelope
  • Cleaned up craft station
  • Placed stack of envelopes in the Peace Corps Office Embassy mailbox
  • Tracked down an “I Voted” sticker
  • Drank some tererĂ©

As Chicago residents we actually had it easier than a lot of other Volunteers. So what’s your excuse?

As a Chicago voter, I couldn't help but wonder if the city was encouraging me to vote twice
Setting up our craft station
Required materials
The coveted sticker
"And I'm proud to be an American..."
"...'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land..."