13 September 2008

Absentee voting

Not so simple...

With the upcoming general election we have started the process to obtain our absentee ballots. Unfortunately this is not as easy a process as one might expect, especially after the problems with the 2000 election.

There are a couple things about this process that I found that made it difficult for people to vote if they are not in their home town in the US on Election Day. We cannot vote at the American consulates or Embassy in Italy, not even solely for federal offices. We have to send a form to request an absentee ballot to the county clerk where we consider our last US residence. They will then send us the absentee ballot which we then complete and mail back to the county clerk. This is all done via the postal services, US and Italian. Our experiences with both of these postal systems do not install confidence in this process.

At least for New Mexico there is no on-line request for an absentee ballot nor even the possibility to fax in a request. Fortunately there is a Federal Voting Assistance Program website that is very helpful in this process and they have the form to download to request an absentee ballot (Federal Post Card Application). Without this federal form, in New Mexico, you have to go to or mail a request for the absentee application at the county clerk’s office.

I realize that there are issues unique to the legitimate use of absentee ballots but our experience in New Mexico was that these were not the only voting issues. There were regular stories around election time of legislative candidates delivering fried chicken to poll workers, dead persons on the voter rosters, county election officials convicted of corruption and US Senators having to stand watch over presidential ballot boxes to insure that they were not tampered with.

Disturbingly the process for those serving in the military overseas does not appear to be much easier. There should be an easier and secure way for those living, working and serving overseas to be counted on Election Day.

Even though Valerie and I may have differing political views we are hopeful that our absentee ballots will arrive in Ascoli Piceno in time for our votes to be counted.


Gil said...

That strange as when my Daughter was in Italy, I just gave the local Town Clerk her address, in Florence, and she mailed her a ballot. When she was away at school in another state, in US, the Town Clerk even sent a postage paid envelope. The Town Clerk claimed that she was responsible for postage and not my daughter.

Bryan said...

The requirements appear to vary from state to state.