Thoughts on residency and voting

Tuesday will be our first election day back in the US, and yet we’re further from voting now than we were last year across the ocean.

It was strange last year, living for the first time in another land, being subject to a government system where we had no voice or say.  We were guests in the land, not citizens of it:  treated well, but not involved.

Eight thousand miles away, our homeland was raging with political arguments, and we were often expected (as token Americans) to explain them to interested or perplexed friends, colleagues, and strangers. One non-American even expected us to vote how she wanted us to, because it wasn’t fair that US politics would affect her life without her getting to vote in them.  Thanks to absentee ballots, we were able to vote our conscience and choices last year, and it taught us to appreciate that right more than before.  It’s surprising, therefore, that I find myself unlikely to vote this year.

Although we moved back to our hometown area in August, we weren’t able to find housing in the same township where we’ve always lived.  We’re in the same school district and have the same zip code, but we’re living just over the border in a neighboring town.  We could vote in our new town (even though we missed registration, we could vote by affidavit ballot because we’re still in the voter system), but we just moved here.  We don’t know the candidates or issues that affect this town, and I’ve always believed uninformed votes are potentially worse than uncast ones.  The same goes for the three statewide ballot questions, about which I’m unsure what to think.  Better not to add to either side than to risk adding to the wrong one.

Next year, we’ll be more settled into life here (perhaps even into a permanent home back in our old town), and we’ll take the time to participate thoughtfully in our duties as citizens.  This year, though, we’re again caught in a sort of limbo, welcomed to a community but not fully part of it yet.  And just like last year, it reminds us that our true citizenship is not of any country here on Earth but of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that God will always be our Lord and Savior.

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” — Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV)

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