With time officially running out Thursday at 8 p.m., Florida counties are in the midst of a dramatic recount to determine the winners in three statewide races. One week after the midterm elections, the outcome of several key votes is still unclear, which has triggered comparisons with the 2000 recount of Florida votes during the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. It’s likely that the uncertainty may drag on even longer than first estimated, as several counties have asked for extensions. Ballots mailed from abroad are being counted until Friday. But Amalee McCoy’s won’t be among them. The 42-year-old U.S. citizen who has lived abroad for almost three decades sent in her ballot from Thailand on Oct. 17, using registered mail. “We kept a copy of the tracking number as I was concerned about reports of voter suppression during early voting already happening in the news,” said McCoy, who lives in Bangkok but votes in Osceola County, Fla. In previous years, voting from abroad posed few challenges, she said. But this year, things went differently.
“When [Nov. 5] rolled around, I started to wonder about if my ballot had been received,” McCoy said. When she checked online, she saw that her vote had reached John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Oct. 25. It disappeared without a trace until Nov. 8. “My husband sent me a photo of my returned absentee ballot, that he had just received in the mail at our home in Bangkok,” McCoy recalled. The reason? “Not deliverable as addressed.”
McCoy has shared her case with the Democrats Abroad in Thailand organization and has alerted local officials in the United States but says she has received no explanation of why her ballot never reached its destination.
“I’m also a Thai citizen, and I find it highly ironic that I have more faith that my vote will be received, registered and counted in the upcoming national elections here in February,” McCoy said. Thailand has hung in the balance between dictatorship and democracy in recent years.
With an estimated 2.6 million Americans living abroad who can vote, according to the Federal Voter Assistance Program, the broader question to many is why the United States makes it so hard for them to participate in elections. There are a number of challenges, including varying deadlines, delays in registrations and the risks of international mailing. Some try; others don’t even bother.