Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Casting my ballot

Today I mailed my absentee ballot for the presidential primary election, the same day everyone else back home in Ohio is casting their votes. This is the first time I've voted by absentee ballot. Originally, I figured I would just blow off voting in March, but with the race so close I decided it would be too important to miss.

So about a month ago I used Skype to call the board of elections back home through the internet to confirm that I am, indeed, now registered at my parents' address. Then I had to print and fill out a form from the internet and mail it in to request an absentee ballot. A few weeks later, it arrived in my hot little hands. Clark County even picked up the $1.14 postage to mail it to me, although I had to pay the $2.60 postage to send it back.

Absentee ballots have to arrive no later than 20 days after voting day. No doubt the unofficial results will be reported well before my vote ever hits the Board of Elections' mail box, but still. Now there's a 1 in 500 gazillion chance I can be a tie-breaker! Whoopee! That would actually make up for all the other times that my ultra-informed opinion amounted to a pile of steaming horse crap back when I was a real journalist.

Seriously though. I'm kind of proud to say that I took the necessary steps to be responsible citizens and vote. It really wasn't that much of a hassle, actually.

I've been a little surprised at how much attention the election has been receiving here in Japan. I'm told that the Japanese are concerned with the election in part because the health of the U.S. economy has such a direct effect on Japan. TV news reports on the campaign everyday. The Columbus Dispatch recently published an excellent article explaining why the Japanese are so interested.

Several of my co-workers have asked me which candidate I favor. Consistently, they always tell me they like Barack Obama. My boss says she likes him because he's an eloquent speaker. One of my English Club students seems to support Obama out of a dislike for Hillary. When I asked why, she brought up Hillary's crying episode in New Hampshire. She was worried about the insidious and manipulative implications of such behavior, saying something along the lines of "When a woman cries, all is forgiven."

Obama also has his share of cheerleaders in the little town of Obama, Japan, which is on Honshu's west coast halfway between Hiroshima and Tokyo. Obama, by the way, means "small shore" in Japanese. This Yahoo! News article talked about how the tourism board there is giddy about its luck, printing up T-shirts reading "I love Obama."

Check out this video I found about Obama-mania in Obama town.

Really, I won't be surprised if, before November, I see memorabilia turn up with Hello Kitty in an Obama T-shirt.

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