Lazy Web Guide to Voting in the U.S. Elections at Home and Overseas

Jon watching me address the envelopes Make shift voting booth in Prague Addressing the envelope with my eyes closed

Hey Americans, admit it. It’s not easy to vote in the U.S. elections despite how many celebrities, politicians and pop personalities say to just go out there and “rock” it. The easiest part is the two line form you fill out when you register. Afterward, it’s all downhill from here!

Then, you should make sure you’re eligible to vote in your current country (overseas voters) and local state, county, city, etc. come election time. And finally, you have to actually fill out the ballot in person or in the comfort of your own home.

Stop. You can’t just fill that ballot out.

You have to know where each candidate (nationally and locally) stands on all (or most) issues so, you can decide who can make the best decisions on your behalf.

Then, there are the state propositions and local measures. They need additional research too? YES. I guess. Ugh.

These are written very generically on the ballot but once you get to the bottom line, they seem just as convoluted as the candidates who want your vote. There are two sides to mull over, special interest groups who are more likely just interested in the money and other people who endorse one side or the other because it benefits them as well.

Lots to think about.

Huff. Puff. Loud, audible sigh.

This is what freedom sounds like in America when we’re gathered to vote. No wonder voter turnout is so low. Can someone fix this? Can the White House Digital Service people get on this, stat?! Because this election isn’t George W. Bush serving two terms scary, this is a real nightmare with a hint of WWIII.

So, I really don’t care that you think voting in America is difficult because if you didn’t know life wasn’t easy now – then you need to wake up and do something about it. Let me help you with your research with these handy sites to get you started:

  1. Oh yes, Ballot.FYI may look something like if Andy Warhol was running for POTUS and the Campbell Soup Company was his VP or a major contributor to his Super PACs. If you can get pass all of the pizazz, you’ll find Cliffs Notes version of the California State Propositions to get you started on your research. But don’t stop here dear friends, keep reading.
  2. The Official Voter Information Guide breaks down the California Propositions for you in Spanish, Hindi, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Tagalog, etc. This .gov site also summarizes, tell you what voting yes vs. no actually mean, arguments from both sides and which interest group(s) or politician(s) are vested.
  3. For the Wikipedia information digesters, I give you Ballotpedia, which is exactly what it sounds like! A buttload of encyclopedia entries of ballot proposals and some other things happening in American politics we all should be paying more attention to. Bookmark this site!
  4. And lastly for your reading list, the California Budget & Policy Center writes an independent analysis on propositions affecting the state fiscal and economic issues. Yes, this sounds boring because balancing the state’s checkbook is, but really important for you and I to understand where our money goes.

Sorry non-California residents, I don’t have a lot of link love for you but please tell me which sites have helped you for this upcoming election! Or check our these helpful links.

U.S. Ballot is sealed
U.S. Ballot is sealed

Voting Overseas (Absentee)

Oh, how cosmopolitan of you darling! Did you go to the American Embassy where every U.S. expat is invited to go and vote with champagne in hand alongside ambassadors? Nope.

But if you need help, this is the gist of how-to-vote absentee when you’re living overseas:

  1. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and select your home state for more information on how to vote absentee overseas. Complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) in 2016 (or whichever voting year it is) to ensure you’re able to participate
  2. Check the status of your absentee ballot registration through your state’s voter registration verification site.
  3. Receive your electronic ballot via email and see the steps above to help you fill it out.
  4. Return your ballot to your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate via diplomatic pouch to the United States at least a month or earlier before the U.S. elections. Check with your local embassy!

Once we filled out the ballot, we headed to a Ceska Posta (Czech Post Office) to buy envelopes (1 CZK each) after three failed attempts at trying to find them in the shops near our apt. The line was long and I felt like an @$$h0l3 because my Czech is horrible and it took at least 5 minutes to hunt them down.

We addressed them and stuffed our ballots while eating burgers, fried cheese and a 1L of Paulaner’s Oktoberfest to celebrate at a tourist trap of a bar in Prague’s castle district where the embassy is. Then, we headed over to the American Center in Prague which is right next door to the U.S. Embassy. It is the building with Kosovo’s flag flying high (even the consulates there made light of it). Very odd.

But we voted! Ya vote! Mission accomplished.

voting-done

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