Voting was an unquestioned obligation in my family growing up, so it was deeply depressing to learn that my move to Guam in 1980 marked the end to my say in presidential elections, something I’d been exercising since 1968.
Then, in the run-up to the 2004 election, legal lights of my acquaintance on Saipan informed me that as a then CNMI resident, based on the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, I could register and vote for federal offices.
I followed through with the Dane County, Wisconsin elections office which informed me that yes, I could vote and further that a daughter who had just turned 18 and had never set foot in the state could as well. This proved to be good news for candidate John Kerry though of course not good enough for him to win.
Moving back to Guam a few years later, I sought and got ballots for 2012 and 2016. Most re-
cently the good news was for Donald Trump who—barely—carried the state, but not with my assistance.
Now comes the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, sitting in Chicago with its January Segovia v. U.S. decision, which appears to disenfranchise me:
“In this appeal, former residents of Illinois now residing in the United States territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands challenge federal and state statutes that do not allow them to obtain absentee ballots for federal elections in Illinois. Generally, federal and state law require that former residents living outside of the United States who retain their U.S. citizenship receive such ballots. But the territories where the plaintiffs now reside are considered part of the United States under the relevant statutes, while other territories are not. The anomalous result is that former Illinois residents who move to some territories can still vote in federal elections in Illinois, but the plaintiffs cannot.”
Being essentially law abiding, I asked the Dane County clerk’s office, “Does this mean I can apply for and receive a ballot to vote for candidates in federal elections? Or did I vote illegally on two occasions? Bruce Lloyd,” receiving a not particularly enlightening response “Voters in Guam are not considered overseas. If you have not ruled out returned [sic] to Wisconsin, you would be treated the same as any other absentee voter unable to make it to their polling place on Election Day and would receive a ballot with all offices (local, state, and federal).”
Thus, I’m going under the assumption that unless I return to Wisconsin as a resident or the law is reinterpreted some other way, I won’t be voting there again.
I’ve not had the best of luck voting absentee. While working in Cuba (Guantanamo Bay) a few years ago, my CNMI absentee ballot apparently got lost in the mail.
But the first instance was the worst. Voting from Okinawa while serving in the Army I mailed in my first ballot to my hometown. Only many years later did I learn the outcome. Seems my late father, with whom I shared a first and last name went to vote, only to be told he had already voted. An angry and persistent voter, dad got and cast his ballot. Later, he realized he had probably canceled my ballot.
Thanks for ‘fessing up Dad.