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Mail In Ballots: A Question for the Forum

Posted by on September 28, 2012

The mail-in ballot

Well, it is that time of season- the bi-annual elections in the USA. Unlike the congressional elections of 2010, this one is much uglier than the last for a lot is at steak for not only the politicians that are up for elections, but also the President and his challenger. A lot of promises were made and broken. A lot of Americans are frustrated with the way the country is going. And the rest of the world, including us expatriates, are holding our breaths until we turn blue, in hopes that one or the other will be sworn in for four years of beatings from Congress and the American people, and words of advice from the Europeans being criticized for their own debt woes “Kümmern Sie sich um Ihre eigene Sachen!” (In German: Mind your own business!)

For us expatriates, this election year marks the very first time that we can register online and receive our ballots in attachment. No more calling or writing letters directly to the county courts of the last place of residence. Now, you can go to a website, fill out your biographical information, providing information through your passport, before it gets shipped to the courthouse where the recorder sends you the ballot via e-mail for you to vote. Sadly though, Americans back home have yet to figure out a quicker and more efficient way for us expats to send our ballots back home for processing; especially as the ballot envelope is much smaller than the ballot itself (see picture below).

The ballot envelope

But as I was casting my ballot, a question came to mind while at the breakfast table. This has something to do with the way the names are arranged on the ballots (see the first picture at the top of the article); especially with regards to the Presidency. Normally, one has the incumbent (Barack Obama) on top followed by the challenger (Mitt Romney) and the rest of the candidates. However, it appears the opposite is the case. Even more strangely, the arrangement in the Senate ballot has the Independent on top, followed by the two main party candidates and other third parties.  Is this part of a scheme to trick people into voting for the wrong candidate just by reading the top people and voting for them? Or is there a scheme that is supposed to be standard procedure like it appears on the ballot? It is very strange for in the last Presidential elections, Obama was on top, followed by John McCain. Call me paranoid, but the election campaign so far has produced some of the ugliest topics that have made their way onto the dinner table of many homes and onto social networks, like facebook, isolating one from another and splitting families into pieces. Some of them will be mentioned as the Flensburg Files and its sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will cover the topics prior to Election Day on 6 November. But when casting my ballot via mail, which did not require the use of the makeshift ballot envelope but a normal one taped with the envelope, I looked at both candidates based on what they offer and what Obama has done so far. So I was not fooled by the arrangement of the ballots. If you feel spooked by the ballot as you read this column, or if you feel that others are convincing you that one or the other is not suitable for the Presidency- I actually had that discussion during one of my English classes in 2008 which was an eye-opener in itself- then perhaps you should refer to a column I wrote some weeks ago, based on my visit to the national library of a former (and now late) president, who shaped America to what it is today, after World War II came to an end. Perhaps this link will help…

 

Stay tuned, more to come…..

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