About a year ago, I asked my cousin to remind me to register to vote absentee in the 2018 Midterm Elections. I registered to receive my absentee ballot via email, something that to me is odd, given how strict voter ID laws are in my home state (Georgia). I haven’t lived in America in seven years, and with each U.S. election, I have the same ethical dilemma: should I vote?
I understand I have the right to vote, but does that make it proper? I understand that American citizens residing outside the U.S still file and pay income tax, but I never viewed tax obligations as a reason for voting. People should vote because who is in government matters: government officials decide how much we will pay in taxes, what our taxes will pay for, gun laws (or lack thereof), environmental preservation, immigration law, foreign policy, and a whole assortment of other crucial decisions. The consequences of the wrong policies could be catastrophic. I get that, but I can’t help but feel dissonance: As a non-resident, I lack an understanding of many local and national needs. I feel uncomfortable participating in a game where I have no horse in the race.
I decided I would at least try it out. I printed out my ballot and began researching the various candidates, attempting to answer the second part of my internal dilemma: what and who should I vote for? The absentee ballot was more than a page, filled with various county, state, and federal positions along with statewide constitutional referendums. I did my best, reading up on the candidates and casting my ballot for the ones who I think will best help Georgia. I consulted my family and friends to hear their ideas. There is a limit as to how much I can invest in Dekalb county policies. Once again, I felt out of touch with my fellow Georgians, like a peach out of season.
But here’s the real truth: I’m afraid that the country in which I was born and raised is imploding. Every day, I read the news and am reminded of the toxicity of U.S. politics. It seems like a volcano about to erupt and melt the people below. If I could do something to stop the lava, shouldn’t I? Does the direness of this particular election season justify the potential hypocrisy? Maybe the effects of the U.S. imploding are my “horse.”
This election, I decided vote absentee because the direction of the U.S. is desperate, and I need to do my part.