I am proud to say that, since I was twenty-one, I have voted in every election. Correct, I haven’t missed one. Voting is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. Perhaps it is because I grew up in a political family. When fall came around, I was licking stamps and stuffing envelopes. Phone banks are part of my DNA.
Now, sister Susan and I may have posed for this press kit shot BUT, I learned to work the phones when I was old enough to talk. Other kids went to football games, I went to political fundraisers. I must admit, when election time comes around I still miss the electric charge of working on a campaign. The after parties were pretty charged too. Of course, spending the summer and fall in Italy does put a little damper on electioneering activity.
Democrats Abroad is a great organization and I have phone banked through my computer to help with voting from outside of the country. They also hold events, classes and get togethers.
Voting from outside the United States should be a simple process. I usually go through the Democrats Abroad website to https://www.votefromabroad.org/ and get an absentee ballot emailed to me. Vote from Abroad is a non-partisan service. You can also go to New Jersey’s home page and search for the documents. I found it easier to use Vote from Abroad. For New Jersey residents here is the process –
- Fill out the on-line information.
- Wait for an absentee ballot to be sent to you via email.
- Print out the ballot and all the forms that come with it.
- Complete the ballot.
- Sign the electronic transmission sheet.
- Sign the Waiver of Rights to a secret ballot. Obviously, if you email your ballot back people will know who you voted for. I voted for Governor Phil Murphy! Doesn’t bother me if you know that.
- Scan all the documents and email the package back to the email address you received for the County Board of Elections. I did all that on October 7, 2021.
The only thing that is squirrely is that legislation from 1995 that was amended in 2008 declares that I “pledge to place the original voted ballot in a secure envelope, together with another required certification, and send the documents immediately by airmail to the appropriate County Board of Elections”
Sending mail from Italy guarantees that no one will get it. Or if they do get it, it will be a year or so later. I can attest to this since I have sent birthday cards from Italy that no one got. Forget postcards – they get eaten in transit. When we voted in Somerset County my ballot was always approved. I would call and be told not to worry. This year I called Mercer County and was told if they didn’t get the very slow snail mail copy by the week after the election my ballot would be tossed.
Panic set in. On October 8, I googled FEDEX and found an office in Campobasso. With our packet in hand we raced to the city, found the place and I ran in. Gasping for breath, in my only passable Italian, I told the clerk I wanted to get my ballot to New Jersey quickly.
Where is the label, the clerk asked.
Can’t I complete a label here?
No you have to pay from your computer, print out the label and complete the package.
This is a print shop. You have three computers. May I use one, print out the label, pay you and you FEDEX this ballot to New Jersey?
No. You must do it at home.
I got back to the car about ready to explode. Hmm, I might have exploded. We raced back to Pontelandolfo and hoped the Ufficio Postale would still be open. I mailed the package and paid extra for tracking. Ha Ha.
Then I did what any good politicians daughter would do. I contacted my Assemblymen and Senator. My vote is important and I wanted to know what could be done to insure it would be counted. Senator Shirley Turner called Mercer County and was told the ballots would be counted. I love Senator Turner! Yeah! But I’m still worried.
As of today, my ballot was received but not accepted. I’ll check the day after the election. You are probably thinking it is only one vote. One vote can change more than we realize…