As the elections results came in from the USA, I received a message from an Italian friend of mine. She asked, ‘how come I was not in the U.S. to vote’? And then I recalled, that of course, in Italy (where, I might add they have huge voter turnouts usually of upwards of 70%), that up 'til just recently, one always had to show up for the voting in person.
In fact, in the old days, I recall that train travel was free or close to it for people who went back to their home residence (generally the town they were born in) to cast their ballot. Absentee ballots took decades to come about. This was because of the (well-founded) fears of corruption. I could just see it: hundreds of counterfeit ballots being flawlessly copied and cast left, right and center.
And so it is that actually, in the last Italian elections, I did receive an absentee ballot. I’m not quite sure how it works, but I believe you go down to the Italian consulate to vote. I decided, since I was in Italy, just to vote in person, just like in the good ol’ days. So, carefully armed with my voter registration card, off to the school I went. Highly efficient, no lines, and no bizarre hanging chads, strange machines, butterfly ballots and every other sort of manifestation coming from what is supposedly a well-functioning democracy. Simply put, you just mark an X next to the name.
But then, I was pulled aside and disenfranchised from the electoral process; or rather, from electing the Prime Minister and party heads. Because I had been sent an absentee ballot, I was not allowed to cast a vote in person. After all, it could be that I brought in my ballot to the Detroit consulate, hopped a plane to Rome, and raced to the polls. Considering that the only airline flying Rome-Detroit direct is strike-prone Alitalia, that scenario was highly unlikely. Regardless, my pleas were rejected.
No matter, today I'm just happy my absentee ballot was successfully cast for the U.S. Elections.