Painted into the Chair's Corner

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Saga of the Missing Ballot

As the saga rolls on, we’re a bit late letting you, ‘dear reader,’ in on the day-by-day, blow-by-blow. When this surfaced, the Secretary was ‘off computer’ for several days. We’d love to put it all on her, but, truth be told, we forgot to move the saga from personal Facebook to the main DA/GR news page. And yet, it’s becoming most ‘instructional.’ So, for your catch-up and edification...

Looking Back to Day 1

The final GetOutTheVote (aka GOTV) surge has been full-on for over 2 months now. While phone-banking was understaffed here in Greece, volunteers from other countries called our members. And we made up our deficit with a fulsome Study Abroad outreach, a test of SMS reminders, 3 events where we also registered the late ones, and emails exhorting members to get registered and request ballots. There was also the nightly ‘widget’ duty, changing the Countdown “Days to Election” banner on the Facebook pages.

Jai Salvador and I are widgets. Habitual widgets.

From mid-October, we exhorted DAGRs to ‘track your ballot.’ After helping several members sort out how to do that, I realized I hadn’t tracked mine. That was Friday, Oct 26. Make note of the date.

My Ohio ballot was sent to me on 21 September. We had an Athens film night to organize for Oct 4. Once that was past, I finally printed the ballot, voted it, and played Kindergarten Cop, cutting, pasting, and taping the odd sized envelope parts into place on real envelopes. (Not an easy job with those little plastic scissors!)

As every year, I murmured a pseudo-prayer that the Franklin County BOE staff would be able to slice it open without industrial shears and blow-torches. (With equal fervor, I pray someday they’ll come up with a sizing/printing system that does not require trim-paste-stuff-tape-initial ad nauseum. But then, why would the Ohio GOP trifecta want to make absentee voting easy?)

Then I let it ‘age’ until I was next due to go out of the house and near a post office. At a month shy of my 74th birthday and 3 years past finally hanging up the old motorbike, I plan my itineraries and the likely taxi fare to complete them so that I’m only ‘forced to put on make-up’ half of each week’s computer-working days. I hope that makes sense. It does to me.

Consequently, it was a week after film night that I had to meet Vice Chair Steve Medeiros and Treasurer Nick Loisos for a planning and coffee session within walking distance of a post office. That was October 11. Bye bye, ballot, and fair thee well!

I sent it, as I always have, by registered mail, in case I ever had to track it. Registered mail sometimes takes a bit longer than surface mail, but the Hellenic Post clerk assured me that 7 working days was about normal.

When I got home, I’d have done well to have looked at the post-it note on my fridge door since January 2017: “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!”

So now, as I noted earlier, after answering members’ queries about voting matters, I cut bait and got to my own. The Ohio Secretary of State’s ballot tracker asks for your county. Select from the drop-down menu and you get the county, and they ask for your PIN (which they sent by email the day before the ballot). I duly typed in the particulars 15 days after sending it and was shocked to see it hadn’t arrived in Columbus yet!

Next stop was the ELTA (acronym for Hellenic Postal Service) website’s track/trace facility. There, you type in the registration number from your receipt and it gives you a chart of each step of the journey. Let me share it here, because it was simply gob-stopping.

Contrary to the contrarians who delight in blaming the Greeks, it appears the Hellenic Post was totally efficient. By evening, the envelope had gone from Athens to the airport. And by the next day, it had arrived in the US. At the ‘Inward exchange’ station, whatever that is.

The curious part is why, after arriving there, was it sent back to a similar ‘inward exchange’ site. In Hungary. Hungary?? You’ll forgive the exclamation: WTF?!

by Karen Lee, DAGR Chair, 2015-7, 2017-9 more or less

Saga of the Missing Ballot CONT....

Looking Less Back, Day 2 and 3

 

Once you find out something’s gone awry, you naturally want to fix it and then go fix dinner. So, the news that my ballot was on extended leave, in Hungary, set the plan for Saturday. A work-around would be found!

Sometimes the laws of man and nature get in the way. This time, nature was cooperating. But, Saturday and Sunday bogged down. The ELTA customer service phone operates by man’s laws and man will have the weekend off.

Frustrated, I sent a synopsis to our global GOTV co-chair, Heidi Birch. She added mine to the handful of reports HelpDesk had received. Apart from a few ‘returns to sender’ from NY state, nothing massive had emerged. Still, people don’t always report problems; they either solve them or give up trying.

There’s always Facebook. An ‘I voted’ graphic download had just come in email from GOTV, so on Sunday I put it up on my personal timeline. It drew a ‘whooHOO!’ from our global chair, Julia Bryan, the perfect segue for my tale of woe: ‘But it didn’t ar-RI-ive!’

My Fb posts are fairly bland. Consequently, I’m used to drawing a scant few likes, the odd thumbs up, and a pithy comment from my ex-sister-in-law in Florida.

[sidebar] The only time I’ve drawn a long thread of exchanges was when a flaming Dem-baiter spewed out snowflakes and libtards. It may have been a bot assuming a stolen identity. The name was known as a real person here in Greece. Butter-wouldn’t-melt restraint and polite questions rewarded with the actual long list of what ‘they’ keep saying Trump has accomplished. Most have been averted by court injunctions. Talking points for 2020, a keepie! [/sidebar]

Imagine my surprise when the ‘didn’t arrive’ post drew out a number of comments. A few had advice on what to do next. Most were from hopeful voter friends who’d sent their ballot. Now they were motivated to see if it had arrived.

Best advice, of course, is when the regular ballot has not arrived OR has not been received back by the LEO, we should vote the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, the FWAB. The main pitfall here is getting distracted by whether to pronounce it FWAYAB, FWAWB, F-WAB, or F-W-A-B. But that’s another story.

Actually voting FWAB is fairly easy. I went to https://www.fvap.gov/fwab-privacy-notice and filled in my voter ID info, one more time. And saved it to pdf to be printed after I’d bought ink cartridges. Why is the printer always out of ink when you need it most?

As Day 3 and the hamstrung weekend faded into midnight, I updated our Fb Countdown banners (aka cover pix) and made lists for a productive Monday when shops reopened.

by Karen Lee, DAGR Chair, 2015-7, 2017-9 more or less