Voting, As An Expat Sucks
This is my second time voting in a presidential election while abroad. The first time was in 2012- one year after I moved overseas and while the candidates may be completely different, one thing has remained exactly the same; the whole voting process for this particular expat sucks for a number of reasons.
The Whole Election Process Is Disheartening
I feel pretty confident when I say that we're all ready for this election to be over with. It, honestly feels like it's been dragging on forever. And, despite the unbearably long process I've been as active as possible in doing my research on both candidates and how my vote is counted. Being abroad,however, has led me to do a lot more research on exactly how my vote counts and uncovering that information, quite frankly, makes me feel extremely pessimistic about the entire voting process. Personal political opinions aside, if I vote for a candidate, then I feel that my vote should go directly to that candidate and the election should be decided by popular decision and should not be filtered through different levels of government involvement. Having a vote that's redirected to a representative who is then blindly trusted to vote on behalf of my state is scary. What if they decide that my vote doesn't support their opinion, or moral code? There have been times where elected representatives have failed to vote for the party that their constituency elected. And, given our country's history of voter suppression laws, transparency when it comes to critical issues, and ability to lose roughly 15% of the postcards I've sent to friends and relatives, I'd like to believe that i'm a tad bit justified in being worried about whose hands my absentee ballot ends up in.
In loss or victory, I don't feel connected
I'll never forget the first time I voted in a presidential election. I was in college and had gone to my polling place earlier that day. That night, as the results came in, the entire campus erupted in celebration. Cars drove around honking their horns, there was music everywhere, there was a feeling of electricity in the air; it was amazing! I felt like a full-blown adult with responsibilities and I had helped to elect the president of the United States of America.
My second time voting came with a lot less celebration. I found out through a group text message while I at work, in between classes, that we had re-elected our previous president. When I went to tell my students, I got confused stares and tilted heads in response, so I moved forward with our lesson. When I went to post a celebratory status on my Facebook page later that afternoon, everyone back home was already sound asleep and my status slipped into Facebook limbo; lost amongst newsfeed memes, youtube videos, and reposted selfies. It got no likes, no comments, and no shares. I was immediately disinterested in speaking any further on the issue.
This time around, I've been tempted to comment on the candidates but I stop myself, wondering, "why bother?" Win or lose, I'll still be over here and everyone else will be over there. The decisions that the president makes matters, but it's not going to personally impact my day-to-day schedule. For the most part, my biggest concern is how the new president will influence the exchange rate for when I need to wire money to my U.S. account to pay bills.
It makes me question why I'd ever consider going back
This election cycles has weighed on my mind heavily. Reading the gross vitriol about both candidates, seeing the videos and hearing the audio coming from both is disgusting. But, what's more disturbing are the people that this election has awoken. There's been massive tension building up in our country for a long time and this election has definitely brought out the beast in people and that more than bothers me...it scares me.
Why would I willingly leave a place where I'm accepted, loved, taken care of and have the opportunity to grow in every way possible to live somewhere where the people are full of hatred, disdain and straight up ugliness?
As an expat, I'm forced to evaluate what makes the country that I'm from so great and I have to question what other people see in it. As someone who has seen a lot of what this world has to offer, I can understand the allure of being stateside, but as a citizen of the states, I understand the appeal in being away from home and the outcome of this election will determine my next time back.
*The comments and opinions made in this article do not reflect those of CP Travels and are solely the opinions of the author.