🗳️ How to Register to Vote, whether overseas or stateside! (USA Midterms 2018) 🇺🇸

I’m aware this topic is only applicable to a very, very small portion of my audience.

After all, this blog written by a Taiwanese-American student studying in Hong Kong, ocasionally talking about her future exchange trip to Leeds, England.

However, as I’m an American citizen (born and raised in Austin, Texas) I feel as though it is part of my civic duty to get the word out and encorage people to vote.

And while we are over 2 months away from the Midterm elections…

We are ONLY 42 days away from the registration deadline (October 9th for most states)!

Even worse, many states DON’T allow online registration for absentee overseas elections, instead requiring that a physical (snail mail) letter be RECIEVED by the county voting clerk BEFORE the deadline.

Which means that if you want to vote in the upcoming election, you really need to be thinking about sending out that ballot request form within the next few days!

Unfortunatly, it can be a pain to figure out how to register if you happen to be living or studying overseas like me. So to all my friends out there stuck in the same situtation as me, here is how you do it!

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Source: Amber Zen via Pixbay

How to vote as an overseas citizen

If you are:

  • an active duty member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine;
  • an eligible spouse or family member of an active duty member of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine; or
  • a U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S. (<- my case)
  1. Go to FVAP.gov
  2. Click on the state you last resided in from the drop down menu (Texas in my case)
    1. Citizen but never lived in the USA? you might still be able to vote if you’re parents/legal guradian last resided in one of the states listed here
  3. Pay attention to the 3 deadlines in the blue box (it’s different for each state)
    1. Registration – If you have never voted overseas before, pay attention to this.
    2. Ballot Request – For people who have registed before, but just need the ballot.
    3. Ballot Return – This is when you need to return the ballot it by (more on that in the future).
  4. Scroll down to the “Register to vote…” section
  5. Choose to either fill in the necessary data with EITHER the online assistant or download+print the FPCA and fill it out by hand
  6. Complete the information according to instructions
  7. Mail it to the appropriate county voting clerk (if applicable)
  8. DONE! – Now just wait until they send you your ballot in October

Here is a short video about the process (it’s a screen capture of my phone so the quality isn’t great but you get the general gist of it):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_9-T2Eiayv8gYtFNehsERIVr8akgBp8C/view?usp=sharing

~~~~~

What if I’ll be unavailable/absent during the election, but will still be living in the USA?

If you would like to vote absentee, but are NOT residing overseas:

  1. Go to usvotefoundation.org/
  2. Click on the blue “Register to vote absentee ballot” button. (top left on website, menu button on mobile).
  3. Scroll down to the “Register to vote…” section
  4. Complete the information according to instructions
  5. DONE! – Now just wait until they send you your ballot in October

~~~~~

What if I want to register to vote at my local polling place?

If you would like to register to vote in state:

  1. Go to this eac.gov/ link
  2. Click on your state
  3. Click on the red “Register to Vote” link – it is the second one down
  4. Complete the information according to instructions on the state’s website (sorry I can’t give more detail, every state has a different system)
  5. DONE! – Be sure to show up and vote on November 6th!

~~~~~

No mater which method you use…

Register and vote!

Because this time, it’s too important not to.

– Rebecca

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Source: Mohamed Hassan via Pixbay

P.s. In the future, I’ll try to keep this blog as apolitical as possible, but for now…

#BetoForTexas 😛

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A Long Overdue Update😅 + Happy CNY 🐶

I’ve been debating how to start this post off for a while now, since it feels like my first post after 3-4 month hiatus should be more exciting and interesting (or at least more thought out and edited). But since I can’t thing of anything really, here goes nothing!

Hi readers!

I’ve gained a fair few followers since I last posted on here (which was like 3-4 months ago) so welcome to my blog new people! (wow, real professional sounding there)

Anywho…

I’ve been a bit busy recently, so haven’t gotten the chance to post as often as I should.

Several new updates in my life:

  • Last semester… could have been better. I was basically playing perpetual catch up with my courses and lost motivation with some of the courses after I found out that they wouldn’t count toward my major.
    • Still I powered through it and while my gpa was down from previous sem, my CGPA went up (since y1-sem 1 was far worse). Plus I learned a ton and feel I got a fair score for how I did. Still need to work on not procrastinating on revision though…
  • Laptop blue-screened in December while I was visiting relatives abroad, so wasn’t able to get back on a proper laptop until I got back in January.
  • I’m taking 6 courses this year, so I’m a bit busier than last year. Luckily these course are pretty awesome compared to last sem’s ones so we will see!
  • Ran 10km again in the HK Standard Charter Marathon again. Was a bit slower this year (by like 3 minutes), but considering I trained less and I got wicked cramps 3/4 the way through I’ll take that time with pride
  • I’ve been nominated to the University of Leeds for my semester abroad next year! Super stoked! (I’ll probably blog about it here/another new blog)

I’ll continue with the goals thing starting March 1, as I’ve found it to be very useful. Even if I don’t manage to finish my goals, at least I have a typed out outline of the things I need to focus on, which is great.

🎆 Have a happy Chinese New Year and great Year of the Dog! 🏮 (恭喜發財!狗年旺旺! 🐶) and I’ll see you in March.

-Rebecca

 

P.s. Before I forget, the USA Mid Term elections are happening this year and the deadline for the primaries in several states are coming up soon.

If you are like me, a USA citizen living abroad, or a member of the military, you can use the Federal Voting Assistance Program at FVAP.gov to request your mail in ballot.

For people stateside, you can find the information you need here at the usvotefoundation.org  or EAC.gov. 12 states even have same day voter registration, so honestly you have very little reason not to vote if you are eligible.


p.s.s I didn’t want this to end on a downer or have this post be super political but it has got to be said. The USA needs to sort out its gun problem. NOW.

It is absolutely abhorrent that these shootings continue to happen and I’m always at a loss for words when nothing gets done except for offers of “thoughts and prayers”.

As someone who grew up in Texas, I understand the pervasiveness of gun culture and get extremely annoyed when people stereotype gun owners as red necked hillbillies or end of the world prepers. A few of my close friends and classmates were gun owners who used them for hunting and sport.  And this was just in Austin, I can only imagine what is like to have a gun in a more rural area. Gun culture is just a facet of life and there is little point in trying to ignore it or demonize others for it.

But something has gone wrong when you remember as an elementary kid having “unidentified stranger on campus” drills where you learn how to duck under your desk or hid in the restroom/closet while staying as quiet as possible. When you remember visiting to a Cabela’s just being stunned at just how easy for someone to get a gun. When you see in the news that another school shooting has happened and you are no longer shocked, only numb.

Gun culture and gun control are not mutually exclusive to each other. You can be a second amendment supporter and believe in common sense gun regulations. This should not be such a difficult concept to understand. Period.

 

 

Day #11 – Why I commemorate Remebrance Day, not celebrate Veterans Day

So today marks the 99th anniversary of  World War I Armistice on November 11th, 1918 at 11 am (the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour).

Since I don’t have a way with words, I’ll be including bits of War Poems here and there which I have always found to be incredibly powerful in humanizing the war and honoring those who lost their lives.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.”

~ Robert Laurence Binyon, For The Fallen

And here is something that has always bugged me about how the USA treats the day ever since I moved to Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid in the USA, it was seen as a very celebratory holiday.

Flags fly high (well more than they usually do, which is saying a lot considering USA schools have a flag in every classroom for the pledge of allegiance – something else that is weird about the USA if you think about it too much), discounts for veteran are given for everything and there is a general patriotic sense in the air as you celebrate the heroes fighting for our rights abroad.

There are parades, there are picnics, basically, it is a bit like a toned down 4th of July was more “soldier-ified”

I never realized the significance of that date. November 11th.

You could make the excuse that I was too young to know then, after all, I was 12 when I left.

But that excuse rings hollow.

It’s because I never had a reason to wonder. It’s a holiday to celebrate our troops, what else would it be for?

And now that I do know the importance of the date, the way the USA celebrates what should be a sacred, hallowed day feels….

Sinister to say the least.

Actually no, it’s downright disturbing.

In Hong Kong (and more former/current commonwealth countries), it is a day where you remember those who lost their lives and say “Lest we forget”

Lest we forget the devastating path of destruction conflict leaves behind in its wake.

Lest we forget the human cost of war, not just of our fellow countrymen, but of all of mankind.

Lest we forget the dangers of excessive patriotism and blind faith in those in command.

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
~Wilfred Owens

Poppies are worn to symbolize the ones in Flanders Fields.

In class, you read war poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Thomas, John McCrae…

Two minutes of silence were observed at 11am in the morning for reflection.

In essence, Veterans Day disturbs me so much because it reminds me a bit of District 2 in the Hunger Games. If you have built up a culture where the military is glorified to the point that the cost of conflict is forgotten, then you get people so eager to leap at the chance to fight, instead of sit down and sort through a slower, yet longer lasting diplomatic option.

So today, I will commemorate those who lost their lives, rather than celebrate the troops fighting wars.

I’ll probably catch some flack from people who think I’m disrespecting our troops by saying that, but I believe war should always be the last option, the worst case scenario, rather than something overtly celebrated and glorified.

I just hope more people in the future (especially to my fellow Americans out there, whether you are still stateside or live abroad like me) understand the significance of Novmber 11th and choose to see it as a sombering reminder of our past.

Because those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

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-Rebecca


P.S.

Prepare for complete tonal whiplash:

I will make up a post for yesterday at a later date, was busy yesterday… busy procrastinating that is, did all the Common core essay stuff today. Will likely skip tomorrows post as well, since I have a lab due tomorrow.

Also not sure if this post is over 500 words but I’m over the time limit anyways. Will make the post look nicer at a later date. etc etc. See you on Monday if I can’t find time to post tomorrow.

Let’s talk about Politics, shall we?

Well that didn’t take long didn’t it? I was hoping for this blog to remain relatively neutral in terms of political things, but… well it is a bit hard to stay quiet about what is going on in the USA right now.

And since in it occurred to me that no one is reading this blog at the moment, and I have had several days now to collect my thoughts, I felt it was as good of time as any to voice my opinion on the matter.

So without further ado… Trump’s recent travel ban.

Note:This post will be mostly my present thoughts on the issue, rather than a nonbiased analysis of the exact wording of the order etc. Also this is based on the information from late January, early February.

If you are looking for an overview of what the ban exactly entails….here is a quick video overview about the whole kerfuffle by Vox News:


So onto my thoughts

While most of what I am about to say has been said before by people far more qualified than I (if one can even be said to be “qualified” to talk about issues concerning these sorts of things), I feel it still bears repeating.

Why?

Because of history.

Because even if this blog fails and no one except me sees this, even if my words get drowned out in the outcry surrounding the issue or even if Trump’s Travel Ban becomes nothing more than a minor factoid in the future when we look back on the 45th POTUS’s tenure…

I want to have my current thoughts on record.

Because if pouring through my old tattered diaries in the comfort of my own room or reading though primary historical accounts by people long ago have told me anything, it is the importance of knowing, not by personal recollections or fact interpretations, but through records written by someone who was there what happened.

Since this event, like POTUS’s inauguration was a “I am witnessing history in the making” moment.


In between my swearing to let off some steam and explanations to non-American friends about the severity of the ban (such as explaining Green Cards and the like) I typed out the following sentence on Whatsapp.

Idk anymore, like im angry, sad, confused, afraid and alarmed all at the same time

Which while not the most enlightening sentence to come out of my 18-year-old mouth,  I feel as though it sums up my thoughts quite well.

  • Angry –
    • This was primarily what I was feeling at the time. I was angry, not at Trump or his cabinet or even the people who voted for him per say (though there was a smidgen of that), more that I was angry with the whole idea of the racism and bigotry, that us as humans can sink low enough where we choose to discriminate against people due to their religion.
    • It was also at how we politicise people we don’t even know personally, that after the Quebec City shooting, we choose not to think about the families affected or those who died, but to go on a witch hunt, hoping that the shooter fits our “teams” ideology, to the point of even publishing false information portraying a witness as the shooter

 

  • Sad – 
    • Self explanatory. I have friends who are Muslim and the thought that Islamophobia has gotten to the point where executive orders are signed, where there are laws in place that expressly forbid them from traveling to or even visiting certain places that I could go to freely is really upsetting. That the order tore up families, prevented people from continuing their education and slammed the door in the face of people who had given everything to start a new life or flee persecution.
    • Listening to the news about children being separated from their mothers and detained for hours on end, it reminded me a bit of the Ahmed clock incident from a few years back (looking it up, it was from 2015, wow time travels fast) how something simple gets blown out of proportion because some people view Muslims as a “threat” or “others”.
    • I remember early last year, when the USA primaries had just gotten started, I asked one of my Muslim friends (the smartest guy in the whole year, no question) about where he was planning on going for Uni and being surprised when he only mentioned local schools, not any of the well known universities abroad in the USA or UK, before he explained how he felt it was unsafe for him abroad citing things such as Charlie Hebdo, Trumps rise in the primaries etc. And it just hit me that the freedom to choose a university without consideration to these factors was something I had taken for granted, that despite my scores being much lower than his, I had more options available to me.

 

  • Confused – 
    • Bit of back story, I was born in raised in the USA (specifically Texas) and as a child, one of the things we would do each and every morning in Elementary School was the Pledge of Allegiance to the USA and Texan Flag, followed by a minute of silence. Even though it has been nearly 8 years since I have said the words, I still remember them clearly. I grew up with civic classes where we learned about country and state symbols, with history lessons that taught me about the Bill of Rights and Constitution or learning about the various backgrounds of my fellow students from different cultures etc Just the whole idea of a melting pot where no mater where you come from or your background, you can be an American without giving up your cultural heritage
    • And while I have never been a “rah rah” patriot of the USA, I still consider myself an American and a Texan. It just confuses the hell out of me (though I’m sad to say that it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest) how people can claim to uphold these lofty ideals when these sorts of things happen. It makes me a bit confused as to what it means to be an “American” now if this is how we treat people. I’m just glad that the American tradition of protesting and helping others when the are down  is still alive and well with the airport protest people.

 

  • Afraid –
    • What’s next? Its been less than 2 weeks and already to POTUS has alienated the USA from many of our closest allies (Mexico and Canada come to mind, though strangely Theresa May seems oddly quiet about everything, probably due to Brexit forcing the UK to play nice with the US or something).
    • I am terrified of what the next 4 years will bring, given how flippant Trump is accomplishing his campaign goals without concern about anyone other than himself and his closest advisers. Also Steve Bannon… yeesh

 

  • Alarmed
    • Keeping this one short since the wall of text is a bit overwhelming, but this is related to the one above. It scares me how much power Trump has and what he is doing with it, especially since he gets a supreme court justice to nominate and a party majority in congress, basically giving him control over the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of government.

 

So if you have read this far, thanks for letting me rant and get my thoughts down. Hopefully future posts will be less “wall o’ text” and short enough to be readable without dragging on. As well as more editied. And about things that are less political. Yeah.

That’s all for now!

-Rebecca