Today we asked you for voting stories and pictures, and like good little patriots, you obliged us. Most stories were pretty commonplace, but one commenter came to us from afar and told us a quietly surreal teal.
I drove to Abu Dhabi one day last month, to bring my absentee ballot to the U.S. embassy. They will put it in the diplomatic pouch for you, and then on into the US Postal Service. I think that's my favorite embassy service, except for having extra pages put in your passport. (Both of these services they do for no fee, so it seems like such a great deal.)
They're only open for "citizen services" in Abu Dhabi two hours a day. You have to pass through three sets of airlock doors and metal detector, and check all your electronic devices at the front gate. A couple coming in with me had brought their newborn baby to be registered at the Embassy as a US citizen.
The county election commissioner in my home state will email you a ballot, but it has to be printed out and mailed in as a hard copy. So they include template for a postage-paid envelope, with a big swoosh on it that says "Official Election Mail Absentee Ballot". The guy behind the window smiled when I held it up to the glass, and said "Thank you," when he took it.
Then since I was in Abu Dhabi anyway, I went to IKEA and had Swedish meatballs in the cafeteria, which is just about tops among the many entertainingly surreal experiences you can have in the UAE. They had just put out the first Christmas stuff in the bins by the door. I bought a mo0se-shaped cookie cutter.
I should put in a shoutout here for the Overseas Voters Foundation who are really great about facilitating these things. It used to be a real nightmare before the internet, when everything from the registration and ballot request on had to be sent back and forth with long delays via uncertain foreign postal systems. Sometimes you had to start the whole process several months in advance. My voting address is in a thinly populated rural area in Minnesota though, so at least once the election commissioner has taken my mom's vouching for me when applications got hung up in the mail.