Things That Are Broken*/Things that Work

*Unfolding in real time.

Yesterday, I was with a friend and she warned me that the lead story in El Pais was that the Community of Madrid will soon be announcing some “strategic” lockdowns in areas of the region with high COVID numbers, but by the time I got home and actually read the article (which, for me, requires reading the Spanish version and the officially-translated into English version and the Google-translate word salad version) other higher-up governmental personages had back-pedalled and said well maybe they would and maybe they wouldn’t. And maybe they’d announce whether they would or wouldn’t on Thursday. Or maybe on Friday. Or maybe on Sunday.

About this time, M and Elder Daughter and I all received emails from Georgia that our absentee ballots for the general election were available for us to access. This was a momentous state of affairs, because we’ve been somewhat concerned we wouldn’t receive our ballots soon enough to get them back by the deadline of November 3rd. This sounds like a ludicrous fear when I write it down — but it isn’t.

Some states allow overseas voters to email their absentee ballots back, some allow them to be some faxed back, and some, like Georgia (why are you not surprised?) require that they be mailed back in a very specific way. We went through all this for the primary. Mailing our ballots back required a number of steps, including printing out a certain kind of cover sheet, putting the ballot in a certain kind of envelope which we then had to sign as well.

The sticking point now is that mail from Europe to the United States is estimated to take 4 weeks, because there are so many fewer flights between the EU and the US. (We received a birthday card for Younger Daughter at the end of August. Her birthday was in May, and the card had been mailed on April 30th.) What this means is anyone voting absentee in Georgia from overseas has 2 weeks from today to both get and then mail back their ballot in order for it to arrive in time to be counted.

(Once we can access our ballots, we do have the option of taking them to the Embassy so that they can be sent in the “diplomatic pouch.” I don’t have any idea what a diplomatic pouch actually is, but its existence comforted me until recently, because it seemed like the mail equivalent of a hot line — until we learned that the Embassy estimates that ballots in the diplomatic pouch will also take 4 weeks to arrive. Are they going by steam ship? Raft?)

The first time I tried to access the ballot, I was directed to the (previous) ballot for the September 29 special election. The second time, I could request access but then was caught in an endless “processing” loop. Now, someone at Fulton County has taken my name and phone number. Luckily, I have a VOIP number I can use in situations like this, because I somehow doubt that the Fulton County Board of Elections would call me at a Spanish phone number. Will I hear back? Time will tell.

I don’t know why it surprises me whenever I see how thin the veneer of exceptionalism is, but it does.

On the other hand, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well:

“Personalize your mask strap.”