I am a citizen, therefore I will vote.

I am back in australia just at the minute. I’ll share more about why I’m here another time, but first I’ve been thinking about citizenship and voting.

I confess that I wasn’t really aware that there was a state election in New South Wales approaching until a week ago. I saw the stern and serious faces of the candidates in the local newspaper waiting on the ballot order.

I am registered as an overseas elector, and I was surprised I hadn’t received a ballot. After checking the Australian electoral commission website I discovered that this registration only applied to federal elections and that I am, indeed, registered to vote in the Tamworth Regional electorate for state elections.

With a state election a few day away, and with my family very much impacted by the outcome of these elections and the decisions of these representatives, I will be voting. And not just because they could, maybe, fine me if I don’t.

So why would an expat care so much? Because, as much as I have permanent residence status in this USA, I am an expat not an immigrant. As an aside – I’ve read lately that it’s a sign of white privilege to call yourself an expat. It likely is, but I am an expat – I am not in exile, and I can go home if I choose. Home is a contested idea even in my own life, and something I’ve written about over on Quotidian Home.

I cannot vote in the USA until such a time as I become a citizen, no matter how interested I am in public life, or in events like Homefront Rising.

So, I will vote here. I care about the region I am from, and having deep roots here mean that I know some of the candidates personally. I have listened to different voices in the past weeks and sought to understand some of the pressing issues I’ve been shielded from, only having access to BBC news and the ABC website!

It’s been interesting to see the increase of political tv ads on australian television. They are not as heavy handed as the ones you see in the US but they are certainly further down the spectrum than ever before. So too, the proliferation of campaign signs in front of homes and businesses – maybe I’ve been away for too long, but it is a relatively new phenomenon here in the north west of New South Wales.

Is voting a privilege, a duty, an annoyance, or a frustration for you?


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