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The Expatriate Vote


The registration process; requesting an absentee ballot; fax and e-mail possibilities; the vagaries of the postal system; fears that, once filled in and mailed, one's ballot might not arrive, and if it did arrive, would not be counted - all these became fodder for anxious questions and endless conversations. [...] this concern was a displacement anxiety that both stemmed from and heightened fears (on both sides) about the eventual electoral outcome. Since voting was a priority, I did what everyone recommended and sent in my registration material early.

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									                                                Letter from Rome

                                        Vote    By Ruth Ellen Gruber

                                      ROME      anxious questions and endless conver-        heightened fears (on both sides) about

       N early September I had lunch with       sations.                                     the eventual electoral outcome. Being
        Mr. and Mrs. X, American ac-                Voting from overseas, however, is        physically removed from the main field
        quaintances who live year-round         really not very difficult. Rules vary         of combat, we followed the campaign
        in Italy. They are a well-off, well-    from state to state, but in gen-                   from afar. But we were more emo-
        educated couple who retired some        eral, if you live abroad                               tionally involved than in pre-
years ago to a beautiful home in the roll-      you are eligible to vote                                 vious electoral seasons.
ing hills of Umbria. It was still two months    in Federal elections in                                     We may have missed out
until November, but like most Americans         the last place you lived                                  on the razzmatazz rallies
(and many non-Americans) I know, the            in the U.S. There are Web                                 and, for the most part, the
upcoming Presidential election weighed          sites, phone lines, orga-                                myriad ads, billboards, but-
heavily on my mind.                             nizations, and even peo-                                 tons, and bumper stickers.
   From the intensity of the political          ple you can meet to help                                                 ,
                                                                                                        But satellite TV e-mail, blogs,
message, to the historic character of the       fill out the forms.                                     YouTube, and other Internet
candidates, to the sheer spectacle of it all,       Nevertheless, back in ear-                         offerings brought us the big
the contest was compelling. On the basis        ly September, “Did you get                                          picture, plus an av-
of my travels, I think it is safe to say that   your ballot yet?” was a                                             alanche of the local
Barack Hussein Obama versus John Mc-            question that was,                                                  and arcane.
Cain became the most mesmerizing, most          among my friends,                                                       Tina Fey’s ap-
publicly engaged, global drama of recent        constantly on the tips                                              pearances on Sat-
memory.                                         of our tongues. We                                                  urday Night Live?
   To us Americans out here on the              worried that time,                                                  I saw them all. The
periphery, the mechanics of actually            distance and what-                                                  Daily Show? Ditto.
voting represented a particularly press-        ever else might crop                                                Sarah Palin on the
ing issue. The registration process; re-        up would somehow                      WOLF BLITZER                  stump? Sure. The
questing an absentee ballot; fax and            prevent us from voting. Almost daily po-     debates? Of course. I woke up at 3 A.M.
e-mail possibilities; the vagaries of the       litical e-mails warned that if we failed to  to watch two of them live, but I easily
postal system; fears that, once filled in       register in time we might lose our chance    caught the others on replays or the Web. I
and mailed, one’s ballot might not ar-          of casting a ballot.
rive, and if it did arrive, would not be            In a way, this concern was a
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