Everyone knows that travel – especially planning for travel – is stressful enough, and that “just one more thing” when getting ready for a trip can put some of us over the edge of sanity.
So, what happens when/if your travel day falls on election day, or if you’ll be away?
To vote or not to vote, that is the question (thank you, Mr. Shakespeare).
So, this is my scenario, but I’m sure that other travelers must face this issue regularly. (Perhaps the only exception is for those travelers who live in countries where it is mandatory to vote in person on election day).
I am leaving for a trip to Asia on Election Day. I will have to be at the airport before the polls open, and I will not surface in Asia until the wee hours of the morning, two days later (yes, this is the wacky stuff some of us enjoy!).
I do believe in voting. However, in New York State, where I live, the only significant election is the presidential election, and one candidate very clearly will carry the state. In other words, my vote is not “really” necessary. The candidates don’t need me. So, do I vote? YES.
When I was hesitating, I put the issue to my friends a few weeks ago on Twitter. I wrote:
my dilemma: absentee ballot or not – flying to Asia on Election day. – One candidate is strong here so my vote not “necessary”. Thoughts?.
I received some very strong, passionate replies. They echoed a resounding YOU MUST VOTE!
“VOTE! Why can’t you do absentee or early voting? Every vote counts….even yours!”
“Do the absentee ballot! Even if it won’t make a difference, you never know and it’s important to be counted. :)”
The voices resonated. I will vote.
I am curious however whether the other passengers will be voting on Election Day. Is there any nice way to informally survey them on this issue, without getting punched out? Or would it be simply too intrusive to ask? Any ideas?
Back to voting. (The list of websites and organizations below are by no means meant to be exhaustive on the topic).
One website I found that has a lot of information is called Can I Vote? It is a nonpartisan web site that was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. It is filled with information.
Rock the Vote gives a political voice to the younger citizens. It focuses on getting young persons out to register to vote and to become politically aware.
Since I live in New York City, I found my way to the website of the Board of Elections for the City of New York, and specifically, the page on Absentee Voting. Here there is a wealth of information on Absentee Voting, down to whether to use a pen or a pencil to fill out the forms. Wow, I didn’t know that, in New York City, I have a choice of absentee voting by mail or in person at the board of Elections! The website details the procedure. Its a little lengthy, but I’m copying it in full here:
Registered voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day because of occupation, business, studies, travel, imprisonment (other than a convicted felon), illness, disability and hospitalization or resident in a long term care facility, may vote by absentee ballot.
There are two options for New York City voters wishing to cast absentee ballots:
- Voting in person at your Board of Elections office in your borough
- By mail.
In-Person Absentee Voting
Absentee voting in person begins as soon as the ballots are available (at least 32 days before an election) and ends on Election Day.
In person absentee voting is conducted during the above period, at the Board of Elections’ Borough Offices. The hours are 9:00AM to 5:00PM and on Election Day until 9:00PM. Monday through Friday and on the weekend prior to Election Day.
By-Mail Absentee Voting
In order to vote by Absentee Ballot, you must request an Absentee Ballot Application.
Mail absentee ballot requests must include the following information:
- Address on voter registration
- Mailing address (if different)
- Reason for voting absentee
You can get an Absentee Ballot Application by:
- Download the Absentee Ballot Application Form
- Call the Phone Bank and we’ll send you a postage-paid Absentee Ballot Application form in the mail.
- Visit one of our Offices in person
Fill out the Absentee Ballot Application completely using only a pen with blue or black ink
Either bring in person or mail (DO NOT FAX) the Absentee Ballot Application to your Board of Election borough office.
To be counted, an absentee ballot must be postmarked by the day before Election Day and must reach the Board of Elections no more than seven(7) days after the election.
Emergency Absentee Ballots
If the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail has passed and you cannot appear at the polls on Election Day because of an accident or sudden illness, then you may send a representative with an authorized letter to receive an Absentee Ballot Application and Absentee Ballot and return both to the Board of Elections by 9:00 P.M. on Election Day at your Borough office.
Using an Absentee Ballot
When you receive an absentee ballot, read the directions that are printed in it. You will note that the way to mark your votes is to fill in the ovals near your choices. Do not use any other marks. Do not write anywhere on the ballot. The only time you may write on the ballot is when you want to vote for someone else whose name does not appear on the ballot – then you may write his or her name in the write-in box and fill in the oval in that box. If there are propositions up for vote, you will find them on the back of the ballot. Mark your vote by filling in the oval next to either “yes” or “no”. The paper ballots are canvassed by scanning them with machines so be sure to follow the directions and mark them correctly.
After making your votes on the ballot by filling in the ovals near your choices, fold the ballot and put it in a smaller envelope. Sign and date the back of the envelope. Seal the envelope and put it in the larger envelope that is addressed to the Board of Elections. Mail or deliver your ballot following the regulations described in the other sections above.
And there you have it, or should I say the ayes have it? I will vote, and I will probably do so in person. Absentee voting will be a new experience for me, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me on this.