September 18, 2020

POISED TO VOTE: Got Your Crayolas and Paste?

POISED TO VOTE: Got Your Crayolas and Paste?

It’s Friday, folks! Shops are open tonight. And tomorrow morning. But you may have other plans. So, now is the time to make sure you’ve got everything you need for your first day at school to vote and mail your ballot back to the US!

Because, the states are required to send out ballots to overseas voters – military and civilian – by 45 days before the Nov 3 election. That’s Saturday, Sep 19! Tomorrow!

Some of us have already got ballots from our states OR notice that one is coming today or tomorrow (by email or fax). WooHOO!

Make sure you’re ready!

If your state allows return of ballot by email, fax or even online, you can do it all you’re your computer. If not …. i.e. if you have to snail-mail a hard copy back to your county …

Do you have?

  • Printer ink
  • Paper for your printer
  • Envelopes
  • Glue to stick the mailing label on the outside envelope
  • A black or blue PEN to sign and date your ‘personal information’ page
  • STAMPS to get your ballot to the US
  • An aspirin, coffee or stiff drink to take after you’ve popped it in the mailbox

We dunno, but every time we’ve sent back a ballot, decades now, we feel like kids in kindergarten, hoping we’ve drawn the candy cane just the way the teacher wants it. An aspirin is the least we can take!

If You Don’t Have a Printer

Someone else can print out the ballot for you to fill in. Ask a neighbor or a friend/relative who works in an office with a printer. Ask someone who can drop the  ballot by to you.

BUT, be careful! Basically, we’re not supposed to collect and batch-return  ballots. Otherwise, Dems Abroad would set up some central collection site and zip them all off by courier.

We’re each supposed to deliver our own ballot. (Right. Another rule made before Covid!) However, we are Democrats. We can think laterally. And we will exercise our citizenship to the best of our ability!

Here’s some advice from DA global team:

  • It's best to handle a ballot as little as possible!
  • It's fine to have someone else print out the blank ballot for you.
  • But it’s best, if possible, to be present when the ballot is printed and to take it off the printer yourself. (Sounds a little sci-fi, but still if ‘the other side’ wants to DNA the ballots to contest Trump losing … hey!)
  • In extremis, the friend/relative/neighbor who prints the ballot can mail it to you, but that takes time we don’t have. Try to get a direct/fast hand-over at your door. Or have them put it in your mail slot, or on the mail rack in your lobby, or slip it under your door. Use whatever safe/secure method you can think of.

Do NOT have the ‘printer’ friend fill out the ballot for you!

  • If you need someone to mail the ballot for you, be careful. No one else should touch your filled-in ballot. Put it into the inner envelope yourself and seal it.
  • Then put it into the mailing envelope and seal it.
  • Then, another person (or robot or drone) can drop it in the mailbox for you.

Weird? Paranoid? Maybe. But we’re hedging all bets, so they can’t try to claim a rigged election.

Do It NOW!

If you’re registered and you get a ballot, do NOT shilly-shally around. Send it back asap. Like, tomorrow, latest!

Most states will accept a ballot sent by courier. Check yours to be sure. And then take a deep breath when you learn the fee for delaying what you could have sent cheaper by regular mail, if you hadn’t shilly-shallied.

If you read this and think, “OMG I’m not registered!” you can also still do THAT now! Go to VFA (VoteFromAbroad). Click START and follow the directions. If you need help, send an email to the Help Desk listed on the site. Or call DAGR. Or Ghostbusters.

A Note to Procrastinators

Despite all the ‘Do It NOW’ posts you’ve seen the last month or so, most states will accept registrations for another week or two. Some will accept later than that. You can find out all you need to know for YOUR state at the VoteFromAbroad website.

Compiled by Karen Lee, Communications Com chair