Yesterday I submitted my absentee ballot for the upcoming presidential election in America. As a self-proclaimed political junkie this was of the utmost importance to me. Had it not been I probably would have been thoroughly annoyed by the multi-hour process, but instead I left cheery and proud.
Thankfully my district was kind enough to electronically send me my ballot. I say kind enough as though they’ve done me some grand favor rather than simply acknowledging they existed in the 21st century but alas I digress; I was pleased- frankly, pleasantly surprised- at the speed and efficiency of the process for requesting the ballot. The instructions were quite clear to place my ballot (only) in a small envelope and then place that with my certification in a larger envelope. To my delight, I discovered I was able to avoid the cost (and risk!) of mailing my ballot back by simply submitting if I would only submit to to the embassy. I figured it would be good to know where it was located anyway, right?
Should I be surprised by the irony that when I arrived at the embassy I was greeted with only Spanish and without the impression that there was an option to proceed in anything different? I must admit I was a little taken aback when I heard harsh Spanish words reprimanding me for trying to put my envelope in the absentee ballot box located inside the foyer. (It turns out I needed a specific, certified envelope.) I was immediately asked for my passport, for which I had thankfully returned to my apartment to get before getting too far into the 30 minute walk. I adhered to the mandatory submission of cell phone and Kindle, put the rest of my things (including myself) through the security check, and made the dredge inside.
I went up the stairs and saw the sign that directed American citizens to the left and visa, etc., hopefuls (aka non-natives) to the right. In that moment I got a taste for the privilege that comes with being a naturalized citizen. Again greeted in Spanish, I was given a number and kindly asked to take a seat and wait until my number was called. Ninety minutes, some additional paperwork, more Spanish and lots of waiting later I submitted my ballot with a smile and a feeling of responsibility and accomplishment.
Yes,iIt would have been “easier” to have not messed with it. It fact, it is a lot to spend an entire afternoon doing something that should have been able to have been completed in less than five minutes- and something that would have been completed in less than five minutes had I been in the States. Yet, I elected to not live in the U.S. and with such a decision comes hassles like this. To be fair though, it could have been massively worse! Remember the NIE process? Sure, I’m an American and I’m voting in an American election, but I am an American voting in an American election in Spain. Culture and timeliness permeates such things.
Despite the outcome of the election – and let me tell you the Spanish have some serious opinions regarding who is the best candidate!- I’m counting this as a win, especially when you walk out and see this: