Monday, August 18, 2014

Making Your Vote Count From Afar

August 8th, 2014
I am posting this in case other cruisers or soon to be cruisers want to be sure they can still vote while out cruising.  And I KNOW you all do!

August election primaries just wrapped up here in Kansas.  I contacted the local election office today to inquire about early and or email/snail mail voting for the main event in November. My personal voting policy is that I am not allowed to complain or bitch unless I voted in the local/state/federal election.  I had to leave a voice message with my inquiry.

A very nice man from the election office called me back the same day.  I explained that we would not be in the USA for the November election, nor would we be here when early voting starts in October.  He said he needed to ask me some very specific questions to determine what could be done to assist me.  O-Kay.  My mind was racing.  I was trying to figure out what he would ask so I could answer correctly accordingly but I couldn't even begin to guess.

"Are you going on vacation during that time?"  No.  "Are you in the military?"  No.  "Is a member of your family in the military?"  No.  "Will you be working overseas?"  No.  "Are you on a mission trip?"  No.  "Okay, so it's a vacation?"  No.  I was really hesitant to say "I live on a boat and cruise - it's a life style and NOT a vacation!"  Most people just can't process that.  I find the best way to phrase it is to say "We will be traveling abroad for an extended period of time."  I generally use that when talking to various utility/cell/service companies and such.  However that really didn't work in this case.   He said again "Ok, so you will be on vacation."  Sigh - No.

He said the best he could do was snail mail out our mail-in ballots 20 days in advance of the November election for us to fill out and return.  We have learned that mail from the Caribbean back to the USA can take forever!  Postcards mailed the week of February 14th, 2014 arrived in April 2014 -seriously!!!!  I don't have a clue how long it would take for snail mail to reach us in the first place but it didn't seem like we would get the ballots in time to vote and return them for counting with only a 20 day turnaround time frame.  I tried to remain calm.  I said "Well this just won't do.  While we live abroad for the bulk of the year, we are still residents of Kansas.  We have property here and a business.  I must vote."

He asked me something else and I stressed again that while I am not working overseas, I am in fact living overseas, NOT vacationing and won't be returning until 2015 at the earliest and therefore should be allowed to vote via email!  He explained that it is was a very thin line separating those overseas that can vote via email and those that can't.  He seemed satisfied and said he would email me an application. We will each need to fill one out and then return it.  I am assuming those will get approved and then we will get our actual ballots via email.  I know, I know.....assume =ass of me and u!  But hope springs eternal.  I will keep you posted.

August 15th, 2014 UPDATE
He did email me the application the very same day we spoke on the phone.  I decided to use a link in that email to pull up the handy online fillable form at FVAP.  Once completed, printed and signed, I opted to walk them into our local election office just to be sure all the i's were dotted and t's crossed.  The nice guy that I talked to on the phone came out and checked it over.  He said everything looked fine and made special noted that we wanted our ballots via email and confirmed that the email addresses were in the correct format and box.  He said we would get our ballots via email approximately 45 days prior to the November election date.  Whew!

Again, I post this only so others can learn.  If you are planning on cruising outside the USA, don't wait too long to start this process so your vote can be counted.  It's important!  By the way.....what is your personal voting policy?  Do you have one?

Reader Challenge - I challenge you to compare voter turnout here in the USA to various a Caribbean island like Antigua.  Go online and look up your local county or state or federal voter turn out and then compare here at Antigua Politics and Elections.    Voter turnout for the August 2014 primary in our part of Kansas was 18.11%.  Shameful!


  1. I think it will all work out for you. We applied for early voting through the FPAV site while in Belize and voted in the 2012 election all through email. We were allowed to use our last home address legally (North Carolina) as we were still US citizens living abroad. We never talked to anyone on the phone or showed up anywhere in person as we simply weren't in the US at the time. It worked out fine, and we were assured via email that our votes were counted. Excellent post!

  2. My "personal voting policy?" Simple -- do it. Period.