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Reflections on Voting from Abroad

This post is now slightly overdue, but just wanted to comment on one aspect of living abroad – voting from abroad.

Back in July this year, we had a presidential election in Poland, obviously quite a serious one following the tragic death of the president and many other high ranking officials in a plane crash in April.

I was listening to the radio on the election day and heard of Polish families living in the United States travelling for hundreds of miles in order to be able to cast their vote in the large US cities. Compared to that my 15 minute bus trip to the Polish Embassy in Berlin was such a trivial affair – not really worth mentioning. It did make me wonder however what I would do in such situation and if my patriotic feelings were strong enough to warrant making a much bigger effort (not to mention the expense). The answer, is no, my emotional attachment to the Polish political machinery has its limitations, and rationally thinking – there is enough Poles living in Poland to allow them to make those decisions themselves.

However, this does not stop me from voting whenever possible – I did vote in London in 2007 when to my horror I discovered the biggest queue ever going round the Polish Embassy building in London. It took me 5 hours to finally get to vote, but somehow once there in the queue with fellow Polish voter-wannabes it felt impossible to back out. Also, it was probably the one time when I really felt part of the Polish community in Great Britain and derived some comfort from that. It felt good to cast my vote that day – particularly as it did bring a change of government – and it reminded me why we shouldn’t take our civil rights lightly or for granted.

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