Last updateFri, 21 Sep 2018 10am

Underdogs itching to vote in US primaries, but is it a breeze or a headache for absentees?

Interest among Democrats voting in the 2018 U.S. “midterm” elections is surging – not unusual for the party out of power, pundits say, although the “throw ‘em out” trend may be more marked this year.

pg3This increase has been evidenced by soaring Democrat turnout for primaries in blue Illinois – up 300 percent compared to 2014 – and likewise in deep-red Texas, where incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz was moved to predict  that Democrats are going to “crawl over broken glass in November to vote.”

“He’s got that right,” chortled Texan and longtime Guadalajara resident Debbie Matthew Rodriguez, demonstrating that the heightened interest applies to absentee voters as well. 2018 is the first time Matthew has absentee-voted in a primary as a Democrat, she said, and 2016 was the first time she voted Democratic in a presidential election. 

She is bucking strong traditions. “My family was very involved in Republican politics and with the Bush family. My mother used to play bridge with Barbara Bush,” she noted. But with a husband and three children born in Mexico, President Donald Trump’s Mexico-bashing appalled her. “There’s a joke that since Trump, public opinion has changed: George Bush Jr. doesn’t have to worry anymore about being considered the worst president ever.”

Matthew’s absentee voting experience this year has not been prohibitively difficult thus far, she said, yet there were hurdles: needing a friend with proper equipment to print and scan her ballot request and primary ballot (which she initiated online at VoteFromAbroad.org) and another friend to take the ballot north of the border for mailing. She got it in just under the wire for Texas’s surprisingly early ballot-request deadline of February 23. The state not only has the first primary in the nation (March 6), but is one of the more restrictive states for absentee voters, who, for example, must snail mail, rather than e-mail or fax, their voted ballots back – except for military members in “hostile fire areas,” who are permitted to fax theirs.

Guadalajara resident Will Prescott, who said he has been absentee voting from Mexico for over ten years, most recently online, does not report any sense of crawling over broken glass this year.

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