The View From Your Election: Scotland


In the first of what I hope will be many missives today, a reader writes:

Thought I'd send along my voting experience as an American living abroad, since reading yesterday's late post about the experience in Ohio.

My idea was simple; my mom would field my absentee ballot and post it out to me in Scotland. I would fill it in, and send it back. Easy. But one does not plan for the vagaries of international post at such a heightened sense of mental urgency.  So when California mailed out the absentee ballots on 6 October, I was on it. Called my mom: is it there? No.  October 7: Is it there? No. October 8: Is it there? Mom: 'How about I call you when it's here?'  Mental images of all the most horrible, egregious methods of voter suppression flashed at me. Had I broken some rule of absentee voting? Did they know I was abroad and not in Cali?  Was I….purged?

No – I got the happy call, finally, beginning my daily vigil at the mail slot, waiting… hoping… whispering to myself, Yes We Can. Okay, not really, but after 4 years of living abroad, witnessing firsthand America's waning international clout, I am ready for change. I don't consider myself overtly patriotic, but there's only so much casual animosity one can take about the state of one's country. The Bush Administration is, to put it very politely, not well-received abroad.

My absentee ballot took over two weeks to get here. My poor mother received increasingly desperate calls about the state of the envelope and the number of stamps she put on it – even double-checking the address that she'd sent it to.  All fine, but she clearly thinks I'm nuts.  So, when it finally arrived, I was beyond thrilled. I opened it with some ceremony, showing it to my Scottish colleagues, who are all very interested in the voting process Stateside. There was general merriment – they all knew my postal woes. With a flourish, I bubbled in my vote for President.  My friend Claire, smiling, said in her lilting Ayrshire accent, 'Aye, and that's for all of us.'   So, this one's from me, and several Scottish postgraduates in Glasgow.