2008 is a Presidential election year in the USA, everybody who has been awake over the past couple of years has no doubt read about, seen on TV, or somehow heard about all the campaigning. Even if you live half the world away, you can’t escape the politics! So, my question for today is this – “If you are an American living in the Philippines, do you vote in US Elections?”
My answer is yes and no. I try to vote, but it doesn’t always happen. Honestly, this year I am less inclined to vote than in past elections, because I am really feeling that I don’t care that much about the whole thing. I mean, I’ve been living overseas for 8 years now, and honestly, what happens back in the District of Columbia (Washington DC) has little impact on my life. Also, frankly, I don’t see anybody running for President that I am enthused about. That’s a sad thing, because in the past I have been very active politically.
What about you? Do you intend to vote? Do you know how to vote if you are living overseas? If not, let me explain it a bit.
If you are like me, you are no longer a resident of any State in the USA. So, if you are not a State resident, how do you vote? Well, it’s not all that hard. Basically, you contact the Voter Registration office in the City or State where you used to live, and request to become a registered voter. You must explain to them that you are living overseas. Under US Law, if you previously lived in that State, they must allow you to vote there. However, there is a catch – you cannot vote in local or state elections, only on Federal Races. You are no longer a resident of the State, so you are not entitled to vote on local measures. In order to register, you will use the address where you used to live, but have your mailing address in the Philippines, or whatever country you live in.
After becoming a registered voter in the State you may request an absentee ballot to be sent to you. This absentee ballot will be mailed to you a month or so before the election. You must mark your ballot and return it to the address provided. Some states allow you to file as a permanent absentee voter, and the ballot will always be sent to you. Other states require that you request an absentee ballot in each and every election. You will need to check with your state to see which is the case where you vote.
One of the problems of voting in the Philippines, though, is timing. Since the absentee ballot is generally mailed out around a month before the election, it can be a little bit of a problem. The Post Office in the Philippines is notoriously slow, and sometimes it can take over a month for a letter to get from the USA and into your hands here in the Philippines. If it is possible to request some kind of express delivery from the Voter’s office in your “home” state, it would be a good idea to do so. You must cast your ballot and have it postmarked on or before election day for your ballot to be counted. In addition, it must reach the Voter office in the USA within a specified time, which can also be a problem when sending it from the Philippines. You may want to return it by FedEx or some other courier to be sure it makes it in time to be counted.
Recently the Democrat Party held a first time event for Americans living overseas. They had an “overseas” primary. If you registered and were a Democrat, you got to vote in the primary, and you cast your vote over the Internet! This was the first time that the Internet has been used in a US election process.
Well, honestly, I am still trying to decide if I will vote in 2008. I know that I should, and I probably will too. But, this year is a hard year for me to cast a ballot. I just don’t see a choice that I feel is right for me!