Absentees Make The Heart Grow Fonder

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While many Columbia students voted in New York or nearby states on Super Tuesday,  others have voted, or will be voting, absentee.  Bwog contributor David Iscoe recounts his experience voting absentee in the District of Columbia, where they get to vote for at least one branch of the government.

Whether or not you believe in the Democratic party, registering Democrat in D.C. is essential to actually having a vote. The Democratic primary is pretty much the election for local officials, and no Republican presidential candidate has cleared 10% of the vote since 1988. This February 12th, I voted in my second primary, third election, and used my first absentee ballot.

There’s no line to vote absentee, and you don’t have to go any farther than the nearest mailbox, but it is much more bothersome in that it has multiple steps.  First, you have to either go downtown (rather than to your polling place) to pick up a ballot in person, or you have to navigate the internet (my generation kicks ass at this) and download and print your application form.  I had to go with the latter, since I left town before the ballots were ready.  Besides standard name and address info, the paperwork asked you to specify why you needed an absentee ballot.  Choices range from the cover-all “temporarily outside the District of Columbia” to more detailed options like “confined to an institution but not judicially declared incompetent.” I went with the first one.

The next step is mailing the letter: my generation sucks at this. I don’t have envelopes and stamps just lying around here, this is the third millennium A.D. After having to physically write the address on the envelope, I sent off my application, and didn’t get my ballot until February 12th, the day of the Potomac Primary.  The next part was actually pretty easy; the D.C. ballot has a simple “draw a line to connect the arrow” system, and, for some reason, there were no delegates to choose from.  But then, the return postage wasn’t included, so it required more fucking stamps. I didn’t have time to go the Post Office, so I overpaid at the Ivy League Stationers, where I bought two 40c stamps for $1.00 to cover $0.58 worth of postage. No poll tax my ass.

Ultimately, the election wasn’t in doubt.  Although the Clintons are pretty big around town, Obama had all the local endorsements, and D.C. has always elected a black mayor since the advent of home rule in 1975. The District voted overwhelmingly for Barack, and exit poll margins were so wide that CNN called D.C. for Obama with 0% returns. If my vote ever did get counted, (it wasn’t clear when the ballot had to be in) nobody was waiting for it on the edge of their seat. However, mostly because of Virginia and Maryland, the Potomac Primary actually ended up being big news, so it felt good to participate in some way. And feeling good in some vague way is reason enough for a lot of people to do a lot of things.

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  1. margins

    I wonder who has "locked up" the "confined to an institution but not judicially declared incompetent vote."

  2. stamps  

    there's a stamp machine in lerner

  3. why do  

    so many CU grads live in DC?

    It's the district of Columbia!

  4. This was  

    a well-done article. Good job, Bwog!

  5. The Economist  

    100 stamps? Why?

    Unless of course, you anticipate inflation. This would be a prudent move if you expect the cost of stamps to grow more quickly than your wages. Hence, your real expenditure on stamps would increase, but you have avoided that haven't you? Well done.

  6. DHI  

    Oh unless the Forever Stamp currently costs 41c and that's what you're buying.

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