Monday, November 10, 2008

Voting from Cairo

Just in case anyone was wondering, yes, it is possible to vote from Cairo, albeit more of a hassle. But how exciting-- several people were dragged into this process just so I could vote.

I was already registered to vote, but needed to fill out the form to vote absentee from abroad. After an international call to the San Bernardino Registrar of Voters Office, I was emailed the correct form, and told that I could fax it in. A fax machine. The list of things that I took for granted in the US grows each day. I knew there must be fax machines SOMEWHERE in Cairo, but how could I find one? One of my Cairene friends, Peter, came to the rescue. Peter got one of his friends (thanks, Muhammad) to drive us around Maadi in search of a fax machine.

In the end, I faxed my absentee registration from a tiny, semi-jumbled stationary store in some far corner of Maadi. It felt adventurous.

Then I waited for my ballot to come. And I waited. And I waited. When the darn thing still hadn't come with 2 weeks until the election, I shot off an email to the Registrar's Office asking whether it had already been sent, or if there was another way for me to cast my vote. Bless our county, a week later I was EMAILED a ballot and told that I could fill that out and FAX it in. Ah, technology. So, this year, my first elligible year to vote in a Presidential election, I faxed my vote to the Registrar. And again, Peter and Co. drove me to that little stationary store to get the job done.

"Tell Mr. (candidate's name here) that he can thank us later," said Peter.

I was so glad to be able to be involved with my country's oh-so-important democratic process from all the way around the world!

As a side note, I was really pleased to see that almost ALL of the United States study abroad students there in Cairo were eager to vote.

Side note #2: The Foreign Student Association put on a mock election at AUC, where anyone could cast a mock vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama. At the end of the day Obama won with about 88% of the vote. And watching the news here in the Middle East, that wasn't entirely surprising; various international polls reflected the same affinity for Sen. Obama.

Just the same, on November 5th almost all of the American students and faculty showed up to school looking like the walking dead: everyone stayed up all night watching the election results. So whether people were elated, depressed, or didn't care all that much it all looked relatively similar. Bloodshot eyes, heads nodding off in class, and people cursing the time difference.

Looks like I'll be coming home in December just in time to see the Executive Branch transition. A much anticipated event for everyone, I'm sure--my arrival, that is :)

1 comment:

Mom said...

Man, that was work to get the vote in! It will be easier, I hope, next time! Although the November date will find you in Budapest! So, you might think about this early enough to avoid that mad dash. Good for you, though. Many people here don't vote because it is windy, raining, or they just don't want to take the time. Shameful. Anyhow, well done!