I Voted!

Photo from Christian.
So I guess I'm back to regular programming.
This is still my personal blog and I still have life outside of the Avengers to talk about so let's move on.

One would think since I had already made a big deal about having registered, faxing my ballot, and my candidate wining on all my social networks that I would shut up about it. Besides, I should be concentrating on NaNoWriMo! But nah - I wanna blog about it for posterity's sake. Though I realize I could've blogged about it days ago when the memory of it was still fresh and  relevant, I haven't found time to actually put my thoughts and feelings down in words.

Anyway, I participated in my very first election for the first time since I hit voting age. For those new to my world and wondering why I'm blogging about an election that took place in the US, read this.

So how did I go about it?

Well, Internet had a lot to do with it.
As most of my friends may or may not know, I am subscribed to tons of channels on YouTube mainly featuring Asian-Americans, among them the Jubilee Project and ISATV. It was their video that got me thinking "Why don't I register this year?"

Flashback to 2008. My mother pointed out that there was such a thing as absentee voting. Of course, she mentioned this way after the fact. We were already tuned in to Obama's inauguration.

Back to last September. I began googling for sites that can give me more information on absentee voting, but it was a little ad on Facebook that finally got the process of my voter registration going. The ad led me to VotefromAbroad.org, which really made the registration process much easier for me.

The only requirements I needed to qualify as a voter was a social security number, which I already have, and my parents' last known US address. Thankfully, my dad is presently based in La Habra, making me a qualified voter in Orange County!

Yet I was still afraid that I would be ineligible for one reason or another or that I would miss the registration deadline given that I had opted to send my documents via air mail. Thankfully, I did receive my ballot and instructions via email on Oct. 26 - a Friday and a local holiday, which meant the post office was closed for three days after.

The following Monday, I had filled out my ballot but was apprehensive about sending it via air mail as I wasn't confident it would get to the proper office in time. After calling the US embassy and asking if they have any program that can possibly help me and not getting any definite response, I finally decided to try more expensive parcel services like DHL the following Wednesday.

Another roadblock: The following day, Thursday, was a holiday again. The earliest departure of my documents would be on Saturday and the most optimistic ETA is projected at Wednesday, California time.

Thankfully, there was one last option, though it would void the anonymity of my ballot: By fax. The following Monday (again), the first thing I did when I got to the office was fax my ballot, long distance calling charges be damned. I immediately emailed the appropriate office to confirm reception and validity of my ballot and received confirmation mere hours later.

My vote was officially cast.

And, yes, I voted for Obama and the Democrats.


While I did my research and got caught up in the debates, I will admit that some of the major issues in this election like taxes and foreign policy were lost on me. I will do better next time, I promise.

In all honesty, my vote went to the candidate and the group I felt was more in tune with my very own principles. As I mentioned on Twitter, I voted for Obama because I believed in the Dream Act, the repulsion of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and universal healthcare, among other things. All of which were either enacted or were among the priorities of his first term and amusingly summarized in Kal Penn's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

While it may sound unfair or illogical to even have strong opinions about these issues considering I won't be affected by them anytime soon, what I realized during this whole process was that my vote really wasn't for myself but for my friends and the people in the States who stand to benefit from such programs.

I voted on behalf of some really good friends like Chan, Lora, and Dek who have expressed that they would have voted for Obama if they could.

I voted on behalf of undocumented writer Jose Antonio Vargas to whom I sent a private message on election day saying that I too found it unfair that I had a right to a passport, social security, and a vote when he did not.

Maybe I voted for my benefit as well because: a) I feel like I should not deny myself the experience; and b) I will go back to the States and maybe these matters will affect me.

Last Wednesday (Manila time), I followed the results online from my office and it was nerve-wracking to see state after state turn red on Huffington Post's page (great coverage, by the way) in the early hours.
Funny thing was that red and blue were tied by the time I went down to lunch and by the time I came back less than half an hour later, Obama had already won!

I didn't really understand why but this wave of emotion swept over me and I found myself bawling my eyes out.
Maybe because all the stress of getting my vote in paid off.
Or maybe because I just believed in "Forward" more than I thought I did.

Me on election day after the results.
I had unknowingly put on a blue shirt that morning.
That done, maybe I should check what my rights are as a "recognized Filipino citizen".
If it's not too late, I'd like to register and choose my representatives in 2013.

In the meantime, I found this really great video on how the electoral college works: