The Story of the Missing Ballot

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who had grown disillusioned with her country. It was too religious, too conservative, too intolerant. I’ll move to France, she thought, and maybe one day my country will get better so I will be less ashamed of it.

So off to France she went, and there she will stay, perhaps permanently. However, she is still an American citizen and still has the right to vote in elections. She dutifully requested her absentee ballots, but always found it odd that her mother and not the clerk’s office sent them to her.

With the 2008 election fast approaching and the seething rage she felt at the thought of another Republican president, she became increasingly worried that her ballot had been lost or would not arrive on time. Her mom called the clerk’s office to see if there was a problem and discovered that the ballots were always being returned by the post office. Luckily, the girl was from a small town where most people knew everyone else, so when the ballots were returned, someone in the office knew to forward them on to her mother’s house. And then, of course, her mother sent them to France.

Even though the clerk’s office knew the girl lived in France, they never once thought to put more postage on the ballots, even after the first one was returned. Apparently she is the only registered voter from that township who no longer lives in the US. So if it weren’t for that small town connection, she may never have received her absentee ballots.

Thanks to her mom, once again, she finally received her ballot for the November 4th election!

At least her clerk’s office was kind enough to include this cute little pen/paperclip. It may not be a sticker, but it sure is more functional!

And looking at the ballot, she can finally see the names of the other people who are running for president but that no one has heard of or even cares about, except Ralph Nader (because we’re still bitter about him causing Gore to lose in 2000.)

So the ballot is now safely in her hands, and she can vote for her Democratic friends, though she is fully aware that her ballot most likely won’t even be counted, as most absentee ballots aren’t. USA 2008!

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  • ksam

    Where does this whole story of absentee ballots not counting come from? It’s like an urban legend. Of course they’re counted, otherwise, what’s the point? My mother is the city clerk for our town and she does the official ballot counting every election, and the absentee ballots are definitely in there along with the normal ones.

  • ksam

    Where does this whole story of absentee ballots not counting come from? It’s like an urban legend. Of course they’re counted, otherwise, what’s the point? My mother is the city clerk for our town and she does the official ballot counting every election, and the absentee ballots are definitely in there along with the normal ones.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    I think it depends on your state. Some states will count absentee ballots even 10 days after the election and after the winner has been announced. And then there are some that get lost in the mail or don’t arrive on time (like from the military), so they can’t be counted. So even though everyone claims that all votes count, I don’t really buy it. But I’m really skeptical of our voting process…

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    I think it depends on your state. Some states will count absentee ballots even 10 days after the election and after the winner has been announced. And then there are some that get lost in the mail or don’t arrive on time (like from the military), so they can’t be counted. So even though everyone claims that all votes count, I don’t really buy it. But I’m really skeptical of our voting process…

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    Don’t worry, not all vote count in the US either… No need for a lost absentee ballot to have your vote uncounted.

    Who is Chuck Baldwin? (I know, I should google it)

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    Don’t worry, not all vote count in the US either… No need for a lost absentee ballot to have your vote uncounted.

    Who is Chuck Baldwin? (I know, I should google it)

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    The story is crazy! I think Americans should take the voting process a bit more seriously. Well, the people do obviously… but I hear too many things about “lost ballots” and “counting votes again”.

    No country is perfect but the last few elections felt really wrong.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    The story is crazy! I think Americans should take the voting process a bit more seriously. Well, the people do obviously… but I hear too many things about “lost ballots” and “counting votes again”.

    No country is perfect but the last few elections felt really wrong.

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com/ Sally

    Just wondering … why aren’t the parties or candidates in alphabetical order? Will McCain have an advantage like that, being first on the list?
    Here in the UK it’s in strict alphabetical order.

  • http://twentyeighthofmay.wordpress.com Sally

    Just wondering … why aren’t the parties or candidates in alphabetical order? Will McCain have an advantage like that, being first on the list?
    Here in the UK it’s in strict alphabetical order.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    @David: LOL I know! I still vote just in case my vote is actually counted, but really, you never know…

    @Zhu: Isn’t it? And yes, the last few elections have been so so so wrong!!! How do you think Canada’s election will turn out?

    @Sally: I’m not actually sure how they determine the order or if it’s always that same way. I would assume that the Republicans are listed first because a Republican is currently in office, and Democrats are next because they are really the only viable contender for the presidency.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    @David: LOL I know! I still vote just in case my vote is actually counted, but really, you never know…

    @Zhu: Isn’t it? And yes, the last few elections have been so so so wrong!!! How do you think Canada’s election will turn out?

    @Sally: I’m not actually sure how they determine the order or if it’s always that same way. I would assume that the Republicans are listed first because a Republican is currently in office, and Democrats are next because they are really the only viable contender for the presidency.

  • http://unautrejp.blogspot.com/ Justin

    How cool, you got presents with yours! All I got was a crummy write in ballot… no names, no pen/paperclip/thingamajig!

  • http://unautrejp.blogspot.com Justin

    How cool, you got presents with yours! All I got was a crummy write in ballot… no names, no pen/paperclip/thingamajig!

  • rana rahimpour

    I am doing a report about lost American Ballots for BBC World Service.
    I need officials information, if any one has any send me an email on ,
    ranarahimpour@yahoo.com

  • rana rahimpour

    I am doing a report about lost American Ballots for BBC World Service.
    I need officials information, if any one has any send me an email on ,
    ranarahimpour@yahoo.com

  • http://merlinmontblanc.blogspot.com/ karen

    It’s funny because it really varies by state. On my ballot (from washington) Obama is listed first. I also saw on another website that someone else didn’t have all the same candidates listed. They only had 3 and didn’t include the green party, etc. Our system seems so screw ball. I’m still hoping for a good outcome though!

  • http://merlinmontblanc.blogspot.com/ karen

    It’s funny because it really varies by state. On my ballot (from washington) Obama is listed first. I also saw on another website that someone else didn’t have all the same candidates listed. They only had 3 and didn’t include the green party, etc. Our system seems so screw ball. I’m still hoping for a good outcome though!

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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