Long distance democracy

In 2008 the U.S. presidential election fell during a week I had off from classes in Rome, so I, of course, was traveling. Travel schedules and being a tourist meant that sleep was more important than staying up all night to watch the results live, so I went to bed at a normal time the day of the election. The next morning at breakfast the hostel cafeteria was buzzing with energy as people from all over the world commented on Obama’s victory in all varieties of languages.

For the first time in eight years, the United States had a president that was perceived positively overseas. I noticed the change in attitude towards Americans shortly after. A couple days later I was taking a taxi in Madrid, chatting with the driver. He asked where I was from, I told him the U.S. His face lit up with a huge grin. “¡Con Obama!” he exclaimed enthusiastically. Yes, I affirmed smiling back, with Obama.

This is my fourth time voting from overseas (2008 presidential election, 2010 midterms, 2012 primary, and now), and the third foreign address I’ve registered with. I guess you can say it’s routine by now. I pay the price of an international stamp to mail in my ballot (0.85€ at the moment), but democracy still feels so good.

My actual ballot, which I mailed in a couple weeks ago. Naturally, I love the fact that it’s in both English and Spanish. It could be because I vote from my home state of California, which has a high Spanish speaking population, but if this were nation wide I would be ecstatic. Americans voting from other states, do your ballots look like this? Are they multilingual?

Now I just need to find an election-watch party to attend. This not-so-patriotic expat just might wear red white and blue on November 6 for a change. After that, it will depend on the results.

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One Response to Long distance democracy

  1. Cat says:

    My ballot was in both alnguages, too, because of the high concentration of Spanish speakers in the Chicago area. I got on my business way back, and had a lot of time in 2008 to help register people to vote. I'm with you in not being crazy patriotic, but feel that elections are an important part of exercising our rights.

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