Friday, November 2, 2012

Election Day - Italian Style

When we made our reservations for this European trip, we knew our flight home would put us in San Antonio on the night of November 5th, but we were almost positive we were not going to make it back to Edinburg by close of business the next day, so we made arrangements before leaving Texas to vote by email.  

At least that's what I thought we were doing.  I thought our ballots would come to our In-boxes, we would make a few marks, hit Reply and send them back to the clerk who counts things like this.  Oh no!  It wasn' going to be nearly that easy.

Our first "bump in the road to democracy" was the fact that our ballots didn't come.  Finally, after several emails to the election official in Hidalgo County, the issue was sorted out and the ballots arrived on October 31st.  

Much to my surprise there were three attachments.  Pages and pages of instructions plus several pages of FAQ's and their assorted replies and finally the prized ballots.  We were warned to read the entire package carefully before marking the ballots.  Sure . . . whatever.

As I scrolled through the documents - much to my surprise - I realized we were required to mail the ballots back to the US.  I decided I really should read the instructions.

Obviously, we had to print the ballots.  Who travels with a printer?  

Off we went to the Internet Point.  I thought the sign for the Mexico Bar was an added touch of whimsy.

Then upon further reading, I learned we had to have envelopes.  Envelopes?  Who travels with envelopes?  
 After several attempts to relate what we were looking for, 

we were sent to the Tobacco Store.  Of course!  Why didn't I think of that?

No standard business envelopes.  The only ones he had were just perfect for a birthday card.  Well, they would have to do.  But they didn't do.  We'll get to that later.

First things first!  Let's vote!  

With steaming cups of coffee and croissants we were ready to make our marks!

With that out of the way we could dedicate ourselves to the bureaucratic issues.

We folded the ballots as best we could and put them in their individual envelopes.  Sealed the envelopes as directed.  

Then we realized the signed affidavits would have to be wrapped around the envelopes since we couldn't print it directly on the envelopes.  Remember, I told you the envelopes wouldn't do. The affidavits would have to be taped onto the envelope.   Tape? Who travels with tape?

Hopefully the UPS guy would have some.  
Yeah!  He has tape! The first, effort was a roll of strapping tape, but after a considerable search he came up with a roll of more appropriate, narrow gauge tape.  It was a little yellow and a little worse for wear, but it got the job done.  

Two hours and 20.40 euros later, our civic duty was complete.  Ballots were in a UPS carrier, all signed and sealed and correctly addressed.  I just hope they get there.  Instead of USA, the UPS wizard used Stati Uniti.  Do you think there is a prayer his counterpart in the states reads Italian?

Well, there was nothing more we could do but hope the best man wins!

Now for a little disclaimer.  In light of the current political climate, I feel the need for complete transparency in this matter.  Therefore, it is important  I make it perfectly clear that the pictures in this posting were taken on November 2. I even recreated the scene in the coffee shop and forced Stanley to pose.  

(Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I didn't have the idea for this great post until the evening of November 1 - a full 30 hours after the ballots were sealed in the UPS carrier.)   

I hope this doesn't lessen my integrity -  I would hate to lose your trust!

However, even if you can't trust me - trust your conscience - VOTE!  It will make you feel good!