I loved the age old mantra – heartening back to Tammany Hall I think – or was it a “Chicago- style politics” slogan – “Vote Early and Often!” Using the Federal Voting Assistance Program, Jack and I voted on April 22nd for the June 7,2016 Presidential Primary. Now that is early! Don’t be silly! I’m a Rooseveltian Democrat I didn’t vote in the Republican Primary. Earlier, I had posted that Jack and I had initiated the process before we left New Jersey. Here is how it worked.
It is really simple. Go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program website. Fill out the forms. Print them, scan them and se-mail them to your local election official. On the website they give you all the information you need.
The Fabulous Stephanie, Somerset County Clerk’s Principal Elections Clerk, sent us PDF’s of a NJ Democratic Ballot, An Electronic Transmission Sheet, Waiver of Privacy and a cover page. You need to know that if your vote electronically from abroad everyone knows how you vote – that is the waiver I had to sign. Hell, I didn’t care. I tell people anyway. The Transmission sheet is like a FAX cover sheet that has been pre printed with my New Jersey and Italian information. I printed it all out, marked my ballot, scanned the documents and e-mailed them back from whence they came. What – the e-mail address bounced back! I carefully typed the address from the original Transmittal Cover Sheet again. FxxxxxxxxnxxxA – Bing a bang it came back. Damn, I am going to vote. Using the number that was on the Transmittal Cover Sheet, I called the County Clerk’s Office – yes from Italy and got voice mail. I left a smarmy message about calling from Italy, about voting and when would be a good time to call again and get a real person. I left my Italian number knowing that no one would call me back. What’s a determined Democrat to do?????
I looked at the original e-mail from Stephanie and noted her direct number. I dialed, she answered and deserves a raise for dealing with me. She was happy to hear that I got the ballot, sad to hear about my problem and then gently asked me where I had sent the ballot. Why back to the County Clerk’s Office. Midge, it goes to the Board of Elections – that address is on YOUR transmittal cover sheet – you used the address from our Transmittal sheet!!!! ERggggggg. All those lectures to my college students about reading every page of everything before you do anything came bounding back into my head. Maybe the professor should do as she says!!! We both laughed at my stupidity. Sure enough the email@example.com worked.
Then I read all the instructions and realized we might be in deep do do. It says that you not only have to e-mail the PDF you have to snail mail it as well. Now I have mailed birthday cards a month in advance from Pontelandolfo and they have gotten to the folks two years later. My landlord sent me a Christmas Card in November and I got it at Easter. The instructions said you had to airmail the packet immediately. Oops. Monday, April 25 was a national holiday in Italy. Il Ufficio Postale will be closed. We had processed the ballots on Friday night our time. Ooooops. Tuesday the 26th was the best we could do.
The post office here is the local bank, Bill paying station, and sells stuff. There is always a line. I brought a book, sat and waited my turn. It is civilized. We do have seats. I explained that I needed to send the documents rapidly. What type of services did they have that would expedite an envelope to the USA. The clerk didn’t have a clue. She asked her boss. They waded through boxes and looked in files. Now, I could send a box – but that seemed absurd with 6 pieces of paper. Finally, since apparently airmail is a thing of the past – I mean all mail is airmail so why the hell is that on the instructions???? Hmm maybe they remember the slow boat to China??? It cost me 9.05 euro to send a quasi registered letter to the Somerset County Board of Elections. I hope they get it. I hope they get it this year.
Question. If they do not receive the paper ballot do they disqualify my e-mail ballot? On May 6th I sent them an e-mail asking them if they got the e-mailed ballot. The Board of Elections responded promptly – yes. I didn’t ask if they needed to have my hard copy too. Does my vote count without it?? I’m going to wait until the middle of May and call and find out. It does say to “find out the status of your ballot contact your election official.” I’ll keep you all in the loop.
Ex-Pat Pals – No Excuse – Vote Early!