I'm an American ex-pat living in Japan and I want to announce that I voted for Barack Obama yesterday!! As an active member of Democrats Abroad Japan, I've been passing around the word to my fellow ex-pats around the world to register and vote via absentee ballot for months now. The excellent Vote from Abroad project has made it easier than ever, and I can now personally attest to its success. Follow me after the fold for pictures and details.
As for my personal story, I voted in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional district, which covers most of Chester County. The current Representative in PA-6 is Jim Gerlach(R), who has been a good Representative in the context of the current climate of Republican politics. He's been a moderate, but still a Republican nonetheless. I voted for Bob Roggio(D) along with the host of other Democrats running for state office.
As background, Chester County is one of the Philadelphia exurbs that has begun to turn blue in recent years. It's home of the commuter class of Pharma execs who run across the border into Delaware every day, like-minded fiscal conservatives, and big business friends. These people aren't generally social conservatives, nor are the blue collar citizens of the district, but there is an air of racial suspicion and the old racial dynamics that have always kept people apart. To illustrate the dynamics of this county, let's look at the House race from the 2006 Midterm elections:
Gerlach(R-Incumbent) 118,807 51%
Murphy (D) 115,806 49%
A razor thin margin separated the Republican and Democratic voters. The Republican candidate who won this district, being a true moderate, reflected the centrist nature of the demographic and the toss up that exists for either party. The fact is, a moderate Republican narrowly beat a Democrat in that election with the incumbent advantage. Gerlach faces a tougher challenge in 2008 with the change meme staring him in the face, but the presidential history of this voting public is of concern to me at the moment.
Bush(Incumbent) 120,036 52%
Kerry 109,708 48%
Bush 99,728 53 %
Gore 81,822 44 %
Clinton 77,029 49%
Dole 64,783 41%
Perot 14,067 9%
Bush 74,002 44%
Clinton 59,643 35%
Perot 34,536 20%
The county has only gone for the Democratic presidential candidate once in the last 4 elections, despite the state going for the Democrat in each instance. The margin of victory and the voter enthusiasm in the county have changed dramatically each election, notably showing in 2006 when more people voted in a Congressional election than in any of the 4 presidential elections listed above. In short, my vote counts a ton and I am proud that it's in the mail on the behalf of Barack Obama today.
For those of you who have never seen an absentee ballot here are a few snapshots of my vote:
And for good measure, one photo of the most important reason I sent this in for the Obama/Biden ticket. Do I even need another reason? Probably not.