Friday, August 31, 2012
As most of you know or can tell from watching about five minutes of TV in the US there is an election in November. As a political scientist, I know how important and useless voting can really be nonetheless I still think it is important to do my civic duty and vote! This posed an interesting problem since I will be abroad when the election occurs. First, I thought I could just do absentee or early voting as I have done many times in Kansas however that can only be done 30 days before the election and I am leaving the country in the next two weeks. I talked to many people about this before I left Kansas and most were perplexed as to what I should do. Finally, I went down to the Douglas County Election's Office to get some answers. I received a form I had to fill out and send back in order to vote. Then I left for Russia and forgot about the form. A couple of weeks ago the Study Abroad Office at KU sent us an email with voting information and I was reminded that I still needed to register to vote abroad. I also just thought I could show up at the US Embassy in Ukraine on November 6, 2012 and vote as the diaspora can do in Latvian elections. Unfortunately, you can't do this in the US and you actually have to register. This is the website for the Federal Voting Assistance Program www.fvap.gov that the Study Abroad office sent us and anyone residing abroad can register through this method. The only down side is that you need an address where they can send the ballot in the country you are living. Since the Ukrainian postal service is very unreliable and I am not entirely sure if I can receive mail at my temporary address I opted for an emailed ballot. You can also receive an faxed ballot as well which would be a good option except that I don't have a fax machine! Also you have to print out the form and mail it in so I suggest doing this before you leave the US. I assumed it was an online submission process but you have to mail it to the election officials in your voting district. Once you fill out the form and send it in, you can sit back and wait for your ballot to arrive and then you can vote...no one said it was easy to do your civic duty but I think it's important to remember this duty even while living abroad!