Me-go: Around-the-World

It’s Your Choice, America


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With only two hours left until the polls close here in Illinois I hope all of my American readers in participating states have voted. Despite my thirst for politics, this is the first primary I’ve ever voted in. I was on a 30-hour bus ride in the remote Xishuangbanna region of China during the 2004 presidential election and, with no permanent address or proximity to a US embassy, had no option to cast a vote. When I did finally get the results of the Illinois senate race I sent a postcard to Barack Obama from Cambodia, congratulating him on his win. I’m sure everyone can understand how exciting it is for me to vote this time around.

Polling Place

Democracy in Action

I voted

My local polling place is at the second largest church in America. Despite my grumblings about mixing church and state I voted and got out before signing a tithing agreement or being “transformed” in any way. This was the first time I used a touch screen voting machine. I was given the option to use one of the old butterfly style ballots (the workers said only four people had used them so far) but I decided to test the new technology. The screen was clear and layout surprisingly user-friendly for a government appropriated device.

Happy voting!

11 responses to “It’s Your Choice, America”

  1. Meiya Avatar

    Yes, it always feels good to vote. 😉 My polling place is a church as well. I can’t imagine going to vote where you did, though — that place is so huge.

  2. Megan Avatar

    It’s huge but the voting is just down the hall from the entrance… not in the 7,200 seat auditorium! You can see how relatively small the room were the voting is. I was there at lunch time and for the 6 voters there were about 20 workers.

  3. Stu Thompson Avatar
    Stu Thompson

    Good for you! And this is my first primary too, despite my political junkie tendencies. :p It is also the first time in twelve years that I have registered with a party, Democratic. This is the wrong place to get into a long winded post about ‘why’, so I’ll leave it with “Go Obama!” 😀

    This year the Democrats have an “International” delegations for those of us residing abroad. I voted over The Internets and was …not impressed. There was an option of voting in person in Geneva, but that is too far away for me and seemed like a big media circus.

    Voting in presidential elections while abroad is something one has to consider well in advance. The individual states run things and an embassy would not have been any help. Generally, Americans abroad vote with absentee ballots well before November 17th. Embassies are only good for getting contact details on who to write to back in the US. (This really should not surprise you ;))


  4. Claudia Cavazos Avatar
    Claudia Cavazos

    A non political question. Did you travel with a cell phone or where you buying phone cards along the way.
    Pura Vida.

  5. Megan Avatar

    I didn’t technically have to register because Illinois is an open primary. I’m proud of my sister, who lives in Colorado, because she actually went to a caucus last night!

    When I knew I’d be away for the 2004 election I asked around to see what I could do. Basically I was told that I needed to have a permanent residence where I could be mailed the ballot 30 days in advance. It doesn’t surprise me that the embassy doesn’t help. I have never gotten help from a U.S. embassy when I asked.

  6. Megan Avatar

    I should qualify this by saying I am not a phone person. I don’t like talking on the phone and I prefer to do as much communicating as possible by email. I even coordinate hanging out with my friends by email.

    I just recently bought a cell phone in the U.S. for the sole purpose of applying for jobs. In fact, because I dislike the phone industry in the U.S. so much I couldn’t bear to sign a contract and bought a pay as you go phone.

    By now you’ve probably figured out that the answer is that I had no phone on the road. Even on my first RTW trip it was still somewhat rare (outside of Thailand, I suppose) to see a traveler with a phone. Now everyone has them and it drives me crazy. People need to disconnect from their lives back home once in a while on the road!

    I will admit that having a phone abroad is nice to call ahead for hotels, especially if you’re standing in front of the 5th full hotel you’ve walked up to and it’s approaching midnight. A lot of travelers also keep in touch on the road and meet to go out that way. Personally, I like to leave it up to chance if I run into some again. If I really want to see them I’ll make plans and keep them… what a novel idea!

    Of course, if you’re gone 14 months you might want to call home. I am a horrible daughter and only call home every three months or so. It’s true. I believe that in every instance when I made an international call I used Skype. I think I went through about $20 in credits during my last trip. Not bad!

    There are some places where Skype is disabled or not allowed. Internet cafes that also sell long distance internet phone calls don’t like you to use Skype. In some countries (Uzbekistan comes to mind) the internet is too slow for Skype. And in some places, like Ethiopia, it’s banned.

    There’s lots of options for keeping in touch and unless you’re the kind of person than needs to call home every day (or even every week) I’m sure you’ll find an affordable option out there. I remember buying cards on previous trips but I think I usually just used internet cafes long distance service this time. It’s cheaper but often poor quality.

  7. Claudia Cavazos Avatar
    Claudia Cavazos

    Hehehe. um , yeah, I forgot you hardly called home. What a dumb question I asked, hehehe. Yeah, I’m one of those who doesn’t really like talking over the phone either. I was thinking of having a phone in terms of safety, I suppose. It’s not like I need to call home everyday, hehehe, that would defeat the whole purpose of leaving home. Ok, I promise I’ll try not to ask annoying questions anymore : )

    PS–cell phone company contracts suck!
    PSS–good luck on the job hunt.

  8. Megan Avatar

    Its not a stupid question at all. I know people think they need phones for “safety” but usually they’re used to text friends instead of enjoying their surroundings. I say take it if you want. You’ll want to get a local sim card… and I think it needs to be 3G to work outside the US. If you don’t have one it may be cheaper to pick up on the road. I have enough electronics without a phone.

  9. Chris de Harde Avatar
    Chris de Harde

    Good ol’ Willow Creek a.k.a. the cult…

    I must have just missed you. I was there at 12:30pm.

    And yes, Go Obama!

    (bet you didn’t see that coming)

  10. Megan Avatar

    I’m glad to hear the youngsters are coming out to vote, Chris. Yes, you still qualify as a youngster, at least for another year or so.

  11. Angie Avatar

    Hilary+ Obama are both very good.