Election Day 2016

I have so many thoughts on the refugee crisis – on volunteering, on current events and on what to do with the things I’ve learned throughout the process. Things I am still processing and plan to continue to write on, but today is Election Day and it’s been an interesting time to be both outside of the country and working with refugees. Everyone seems to have an opinion on our election regardless of the fact that they do not get to vote in it. Which in many cases makes some level of sense since it does have significant impact in many areas outside our borders as well.

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Belgrade and the Sava river, because it felt like this post needed a photo!

Oregon votes entirely by absentee/mail and this is the first year I’ve been away for the duration of the vote by mail window. I love our little county and a quick email to the elections office resulted in a near immediate reply back in August with us getting set up for vote by email. The logistics of that meant we were emailed our ballots in mid-October, printed them in Athens, carried them to Belgrade where we used being sick and cold to procrastinate on them and took them north again to Berlin. There we took advantage of our great hotel lobby to drink tea and research state measures and finish our ballots. Then with a little help from the front desk, scan and send them off to the county who almost immediately acknowledged their receipt. A slightly more cumbersome than usual process for an election that felt particularly important to participate in even from afar.

It’s been nice to have a little space from the election and surrounding news. In keeping with past travel experience, American politics are a popular topic outside the country, particularly in an election year. But not speaking the local language means that outside of catching key names, we understand little of passing conversations on the topics. Most of my intentional news reading has surrounded other world news and more specifically following the refugee crisis. I haven’t hidden from it, and it’s everywhere of course, but it’s been nice to have a little space from the ear mongering and disparaging comments that make up so much of the advertisements and commentary. It maybe let the voting process be a little bit freer of the irritation I usually have for everyone on every side by the time I get to voting.

Thanks to time zones, our day will end much ahead of polls closing instead of our usual position on the west coast of watching it all unfold.

My choices are made and submitted. Now what I hope and pray for is tomorrow. I love that I live in a country where I have the right to participate in choosing our laws and leaders. And I love that I live somewhere that come January, no matter the outcome today, a peaceful exchange will occur with no fear of blood loss or violence.

What I hope for though, feels like a bit of a miracle from today though. That the next few years would involve the parties working together instead of endlessly blocking each other. I think that’s where the power in democracy really lies. Neither party has entirely correct, but rather I think, needs the other. That tension is important to measure and check each other as we move into the future. I, for one, am praying what feels like giant prayers for miracles today, that we might work together tomorrow.

And also being incredibly thankful that the campaign ads will be over before I land back in the US.

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