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Monday, November 5, 2012

My Absentee Ballot Swallowed by Superstorm Sandy

I am a registered voter in New York State and tomorrow I will not vote.

For the second time in my life my absentee ballot has not arrived in the mail in time for me to vote. 

For the second time in my life I will spend Election Day not exercising my right as a US citizen because of the US mail.

The first time this happened to me was in 1992 during Clinton vs. Bush vs. Perot.  I was in California.  My absentee ballot arrived the day after Clinton won.

I am currently in Florida and I spent today waiting for the mail.  Absentee ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election (today) in order to be counted.  Because of Hurricane Sandy absentee ballots don’t have to arrive back in New York until 13 days after the election BUT they must be postmarked by today.  The special hurricane  extention means squat because it’s obvious that what us NYers need is an extention on the postmark date.

I did all the right things.  I applied for an absentee ballot weeks in advance.  But Sandy knocked out lower Manhattan and my Board of Elections is on Varick Street.  The mail stopped in New York for three days entire days and was slowed down for another 7.  My absentee ballot is probably floating down the Hudson right now.

It was the right call to cancel the marathon.  But what about the election?  How are those without gas, food, homes going to vote? 

Today I called the Manhattan Board of Elections and was put on hold for 45 minutes.  I finally got through 4 minutes before they closed.  A very nice but obviously exhausted election employee told me that I was his last call and that, unfortunately, he didn’t work in the absentee section.  He looked up my name and confirmed that nope, no absentee ballot application from me had been received.  There was nothing he could do.

I started to cry.  I told him I was an activist and that I had spent 16 years of my life in a rubber gorilla mask touring the US and trying to inspire people to vote.  I was going to be pissed if I couldn’t vote for Obama.

“I can’t discuss politics” he replied.  All he could do was suggest that I go to a local board of elections in Florida and demand to submit a presidential ballot.  Apparently in New York State you can demand to vote during a presidential election if you can prove that it’s an emergency and you can’t vote anywhere else. 

Thanks, I’ll try that, I grunted. 

And then he broke his own rule.  “I’m voting for Romney,” he said. 

I wanted to kill him. 

Tomorrow I won’t be voting.  But I will be thinking of that guy manning the phones at the Manhattan Board of Elections. 

Don’t think for a second that your vote won’t count or that one vote doesn’t matter. 

Get out and vote.

-Aphra Behn 


Ninotchka said...

Oh, how I feel for you! You especially who, I know through your wonderful work, truly cares and strives to make a difference I'm speechless.

Miss JJ said...

I think I must be missing something. Can't you just download the absentee ballot ( and bring it to a post office today?

Guerrilla Girls On Tour said...

You can download the application, not the ballot. The actual absentee ballot must be mailed to you and you have to mail it back by November 5th.

Miss JJ said...

Ah, I see. Things are different in my state, especially post-storm. Glad to see that you did get a vote in, sort of.