Monday, November 3, 2008

If You Can Read This Ballot, Thank a Thai Teenager

It's November 3 in Bangkok and I still don't have an absentee ballot. This means I'm relegated to an emergency ballot that I have to print out from a website graciously provided by my government. (Gee, thanks. I'd be a lot more grateful if I could cast a ballot at my embassy and have them send it home in a diplomatic pouch--but no...)

Since I don't have a printer, I went to an internet shop near my house, where a man who was mopping and remopping the floors switched on a PC for me. I found the ballot and tried to print it out--no luck. The balding floor mopper was apparently as techno-savvy as I am because he called into the back of the shop and out came a boy with trendy hair, a gorgeously ironed piercingly white shirt that would not have disgraced a CEO, and bare feet, who put the ballot on a thumb drive and, after a few false starts, printed the damned thing out.

Then I had to go to a Mailbox Etc (much faster and less crowded than a Post Office) to send it on its way--tomorrow, the clerk assured me, and would take two weeks. That is, of course, if it makes it through the various postal channels, and then god only knows if it will be counted at all.

It's my right and responsibility and duty as a citizen to cast my ballot, and I do believe that every vote is crucial , especially in this election. But damn it, WHY must the voting process be a matter of states' rights, why can't it be standardized on a federal level, and why can't overseas citizens cast ballots at their embassy? I do not understand why my right to vote had to be guaranteed by a barefooted Thai teenager in an internet shop--although I'm deeply grateful that he was there to ensure that I had a ballot.

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