Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Adventures and Political Frustration

Halloween was both harder and easier than I thought it would be. On the positive side, all of my kids were so excited and happy that they were very well behaved. However, the schedule was grueling and exhausting and all I wanted to do at the end of the day was lay down and go to sleep. What did I do instead? I got ready for Halloween because certain people might have killed me if I didn't make any social appearances. Foreigners go nuts for Halloween in Korea. It is an excuse to be outrageous in a way that we generally try to avoid in a culture where we already stand out by virtue of the color of our skin. It isn't a one night affair either, Saturday night I saw tons of people still stalking the streets in costume, going to clubs and Halloween themed parties. I ended up being a rather lame pirate but it didn't really matter everyone was too happy to make fun of anyone's costume. My favorite costume was a boy who made a real robot costume. When I was a kid, a robot costume consisted of several cardboard boxes with dials drawn on in magic marker. His costume had that but he had also rigged up lights with batteries and wires. I loved it! I guess it appealed to the scifi nerd in me. The party I was at (Club Psycho of course) had a costume contest won by a boy dressed up as Obama. I suppose that shows off the political climate here nicely though I have met some more conservative people, mainly from Southern states.

Speaking of politics: I, along with several other people I know, never got my absentee ballot. I feel so frustrated and violated by this. I registered in August, well before the deadline and apparently my ballot was sent out the first day that ballots could be sent out (my fabulous mother has been harassing the district office in town for me). I got other political mail recently from various candidates running for office but my ballot appears to have been put on a slow boat to Korea. Are my civil liberties being violated? Does the absentee ballot system need to be reformed? How on earth do I go about registering a complaint with a time difference of 14 hours (Korea doesn't do daylight savings time)?

When I turned 18, I voted. It was the best part about being 18. When I lived in France, I registered to vote with the help of a great organization dedicated to helping expats navigate the complicated forms. Last year I didn't send in my absentee ballot registration in time and took a train home and voted with my mom. It was a mother-daughter patriotic activity. Even better than a mother-daughter pedicure date. This year I did everything right and yet I'm being denied the right to vote because my ballot appears to be lost in the mail and there isn't anything I can do about it. I've never missed an election before. Despite the fact that New York usually votes democratic, I'm from a more republican area and I feel that it's especially important for my vote to be reflected in the popular vote. And is such a historic election, to not vote drives me nuts. I feel powerless and frustrated. What use is it to live in a democracy and not vote? I always tell people who don't exercise their right to vote that they might as well just move to a country ruled by a dictatorship.

I promise to write something that is a bit less of a rant soon. Until then, get out there and vote. Tell your friends to vote. Tell your relatives to vote. Ask people on the street if they've voted yet on the 4th. To live in a democracy and not vote is a heinous thing. It's like claiming to be religious and never praying. Voting is a privledge that so few people in the world have. Voting is a blessing.

...Can you tell I'm peeved that I don't get to vote?


Nancy K said...

I sent e mails to Senators Clinton and Schumer and to Congressman Bishop. The best I could do sweetie.

Chris said...

It might need to be reformed. I've yet to have a bad experience with California's absentee system but even some people I know in college else where haven't gotten our state's ballot yet.

I see your mom wrote your local congressman and senators, I'd write em too if I were you. In fact I'm going to write mine cause, frankly, being denied a vote just because your ballot cant get to you is absolutely not OK. I dont think you should feel bad at all for not voting. I think you should be angry, and very for that matter since it's a presidential election.

Oh and we too had a robot costume at the roof party. it was fairly elaborate as well. he integrated speakers and an ipod and was able to play music from his body and from his head he had wired in a voice box that he had programmed phrases into. Very humorous.

Josh said...

That's a bunch of junk! I guess they realize that you were gonna vote for "that one"....... My guess is that they sent it bulk mail and therefore it was relegated to a slow boat.... Much love short stack!!!!

Sandra said...

I'm sorry you didn't get to vote. In case it happens again, I just wanted to mention that for overseas Americans who don't receive their absentee ballot, you can go to your Embassy and fill out a sort-of provisional ballot. Also, Democrats Abroad had a booth outside of Starbucks in Itaewon one weekend, for anyone who sent away for an absentee ballot but didn't receive it. These options are not very convenient, but I was at least interested to learn there is a mechanism in place to address the problem.

Alex said...

Thanks for your support everyone! I will most definitely be writing my senators and congressmen. Almost no one I've talked to in Korea received their absentee ballot (not that my social life is a representative poll of how many people got their ballots)so it looks like reform needs to happen! Something to do while I'm gimpy I suppose.

Jessica said...

I'm sorry you didn't get your ballot. I've heard about several people here who didn't either. A girl in my CAD class never got hers. She's only in NY and votes in Michigan, so if she didn't get hers getting yours to Korea seems to have been an impossible challenge. If I had spare time or energy I'd right my congressman. I'm sorry I don't. School and homework are soul sucking abysses.

Rachel said...

Hey Alex... I was talking to your dad today and he told me about your voting woes. So, while he was talking I googled your blog (as I don't have it bookmarked at work) and read it while talking to him. Phew, too bad about the voting thing.

You seem to be having quite a year and even what seems boring to you is interesting to me. Reminds me of going to Sweden many years ago and trying to learn a new culture. The best thing, is that it so changed my life. Of course, this is not your first time doing this, but even still I love reading all the details.

Watched Boston Legal tonight (it actually aired yesterday) and I loved the fact it ended with all the characters going to the poles and voting. I think that this will be the biggest turnout ever! Yeah! I want to go to bed, but then I want to see how it all turns out.