Absentee Voting from Thailand

Many Americans (most, perhaps) are unaware that citizens living abroad still have the right to vote. They can register with the last state in which they resided, or if they are only overseas temporarily, the state of their residence. A useful website, VoteFromAbroad.org, provides a handy resource and will help you will out the correct absentee voting application. Unfortunately for the November election, the deadline to request absentee ballots in most states has already passed.

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As luck would have it, the day before I left for the United States on business, my absentee ballot arrived. Convenient, since I won’t have to pay postage if I mail it from the United States! I have to credit my county’s election department. Many expats I speak with have problems getting absentee ballots in a timely fashion, but the team at my county’s election department do a great job of responding to questions and getting the ballots out well in advance of the elections.

While I don’t vote in the local races on my ballot – judges, county commissioners, etc. – since I don’t know any of the candidates or most of the issues at stake, I do appreciate being able to raise my voice for state and federal level matters because they still affect me, even all the way over in Bangkok.

 

The Reason Why

sta-clara-university I owe you an explanation.  Normally, I don’t time-stamp past entries back into the present.  In this case, though, I felt the need to time-stamp the “Getting to Know Me” entry because I anticipated some new visitors after I participated Wednesday morning in a panel discussion about working overseas.

A few months ago, the director of the Santa Clara University career center contacted me.  She was looking for alums who currently live and work overseas to participate in a panel discussion.  I eagerly accepted the invitation, being a strong believer in the importance of networking.

This was to be the university’s first-ever panel discussion hosted via Skype video conference call and streamed live.  It took a few practice calls for the director and the panelists to work out most of the technical glitches.  The experience actually served to illustrate one of the challenges of living and working overseas: unreliable internet service!

SCU Mission Gardens
The lush grounds of Mission Gardens at my alma matter.

The discussion itself lasted an hour and featured eight panelists: two from Thailand, three from China, and one each from India, New Zealand, and Nicaragua.  An hour didn’t give us a lot of time but we were able to talk about what made our work-abroad experiences unique and what suggestions or advice we would give people interested in working abroad.

While there were a lot of different experiences, there were at least two common themes:

  • First, the importance of networking.  Whether through your alumni association or just through informal socializing, when you live abroad, many of your best breaks will happen because of a friend-of-a-friend or an “Oh, I was just talking to someone the other day who is looking for someone with that skill” conversation.
  • Second, you really have to be patient and take the big picture view.  Living overseas – and especially working overseas – involves a lot of challenges and uncertainties.  Few things ever go the way you plan and even fewer go easily.  Being able to put things in context and not let small things bend you out of shape will help save your sanity.

Near the end of the call, I shared my blog address as an additional resource for people who might be curious what life in Thailand is like.  That’s why I anticipated some new traffic.  If the first thing they saw was a picture of the emergency slide rafts of a Boeing 747, they might get the wrong impression.

If you are interested, you can view the recorded event here at Livestream.com.  There were a few technical glitches but all in all, still interesting.