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  Edition # 103  
San Francisco, 09-21-2013

Figure [1]: Which party did Angelika just vote for?

Angelika We are Greencard holders, not American citizens, and therefore can't vote in the US. But German citizens residing in a foreign country are still eligable to vote in federal elections in Germany via absentee voting. The regulations require having lived at least 3 months in Germany without interruptions after having completed one's 14th birthday, and this can't be more than 25 years ago. Alternatively, a German citizen living abroad can make a case that they still have a pretty good grasp on what's going on in German politics, but the official flyer points out explicitely that it's not sufficient to claim to consume German media outlets abroad.

Figure [2]: This official form needs to be printed out, filled in, and mailed to the electoral office of one's last residence in Germany.

Well, it's been less than 25 years since we've moved here, and for that reason we voted via absentee ballot this year. I've mentioned here before that you can't simply get the election documents from the German consulate in San Francisco (Rundbrief 09/2002). According to the Election instructions for Germans living abroad we needed to send an application to be included in the election registry first. For this to happen, the absentee voter downloads a PDF document from the website referenced above. It requires entering one'e name, date of birth, passport number, and the current foreign address, as well as the address of the last residence in Germany, including the date of when the individual officially unregistered there.

Figure [3]: A few weeks later, the election documents from the city of Augsburg/Germany arrive in San Francisco by mail.

We're so lucky that I always keep everything on archive! On top of that, we needed to assure that we're over 18 years of age and therefore eligable to vote, and that we meet the requirements listed above for absentee voting. We then mailed our applications to the electoral offices in the cities of our last residence, which was Munich in my case and for Michael the city of Augsburg. The deadline for election applications was September 2nd this year, permitting enough time for processing. We had our doubts that anyone over there would actually take our applications seriously, but apparently German public servants are still reliable as clockworks, because after a couple of weeks, we received correctly stamped and addressed envelopes with the requested electoral sheets!

Figure [4]: Stamped according to the international rate, Michael's paper ballot with his vote goes back to the city of Augsburg, Germany.

We then used a ball pen to cast our vote, and placed the paper ballots into the provided envelopes. The ballots go into an anonymous sealed envelope, which then goes into the return envelope. This turned out to be difficult with the ballot envelope provided by the city of Augsburg, which was excactly the size of the return envelope! The electoral office in Munich had put more thought into it, with a slightly smaller ballot envelope that fit perfectly into the return envelope.

Correctly stamped ($1.10), we sent the envelopes back across the big sea. Hopefully, they arrived there in good shape. We've read in "Spiegel" magazine that many German citizens refrain from voting these days and it's considered to be socially acceptible. I hope you're not one of these people, go to the voting booth, every vote counts!

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