This is one of my favorite times of year! Halloween, Election Day and Thanksgiving all in one perfect Fall package. Somehow, I was able to incorporate elements of each of these important days into my life in Istanbul. (Thanksgiving planning began last month as we brainstormed all of the special pumpkin products we craved before my friend returned to the US in October)
To be honest, voting abroad does not provide the same excitement and ease as voting at home on Election Day. However, I will be the first to admit that I am lucky in some ways. I have been free from horrible and antagonistic campaign advertisements, and I only seek out election news when I desire it.
To account for mailing time and ensure my vote was counted, my voting efforts began in October. I discovered a fantastic website for American military personnel and citizens living abroad called the Federal Voting Assistance Program. If you enter your zip code, it will confirm you are registered for the election and connect you directly with the election division of your respective count. To my sheer delight, Kitsap County allows voters to vote online and print their final ballot as a PDF. With the ballot in front of me, and a handy Progressive Voters Guide one tab away, I voted and saved my finished ballot. I sent my ballot to be printed. That night, my wonderful hubby came home with the printed version (we do not have a printer, so things like this require an extra step). I signed it, and prepared for it to be scanned and emailed to the Kitsap County Auditor the following day.
However, I was not done. My vote would not be counted unless it was also sent via snail mail to the office. So, I created the official voters envelope, signed another copy of my ballot and scoured the internet for the best way to send my ballot home. The Turkish postal service opens your documents to ensure you are not sending official documents (marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc), so that was quickly eliminated as an option. However, I soon gained a new love and appreciation for FedEx when I learned that the company had a special program to help Americans abroad send their ballots back home. For 25 dollars, they would guarantee your ballot was received before the election if you sent it by November 1rst. After 80 minutes of wandering through Taksim Square, I finally found one of the few FedEx offices in Istanbul and sent my ballot on November 1rst, at 4:35 PM. Yesterday, I received word that my ballot was received and my vote will be counted!