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..."


    Should have "DAY in THE LIFE" background...
    Got up, got outta bed, tossed a ??? around my head, went downtown, and had a smoke (i forget aft this).. then "Now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall".

    Thanks for reminding us how easy we have it here in the GOOD OLE USA, and how many things we do not grasp for or the meaning of.
    What's the other .. paper bag was on my knee ... "LIVIN IN THE USSR". And Arlo Guthrie "Coming into Los ANGLEEEZE"

    Trying to get you pumped for the Thanksgiving flight.

    This is an absolutely outstanding post.


  2. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Paraguay? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Paraguay in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog www.cartasenmibuzon.blogspot.com where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez

    1. Hi Emilio,

      Thank you for reaching out. I'm sorry for the delay in my reply. I was unable to access my blog and therefore didn't see your message. As soon the the post office opens back up on Wednesday I'll send something out to you. I'm really enjoying your blog--you have quite a collection. Happy new year!