It’s election day in the Land of the Free, and just because we’re across the pond doesn’t mean we still do our civil duty and vote. There’s something to be said for absentee ballots. So if we can vote from here, you can vote from there. I know, I know, it’s a pain getting up extra early, standing in line forever just to vote for the lesser of all evils that make up the list of names on the screen in front of you. But imagine living in a country where you have to abide by their rules but have no say in who creates them. Welcome to my world.

My appreciation for our rights in the US has drastically increased since moving to the UK. I am now bound to the laws that govern this tea-loving country, but I have no say in who gets to make those laws. A big unfair, don’t you think? But as an expat on a visa, that’s the way it is. Take it or leave it. If we stay for 5 years, we can get indefinite leave to remain, apply for citizenship, and eventually have the same say that citizens here do, but that’s a long way off.

Just as I knew very little about the UK voting system before moving here, many Brits know little about the US voting system. Although I must hand it to them, they know more about their own system than most American’s seem to understand about ours. But in our defence, the US system is confusing as hell. And I’m being nice in saying that. Who can honestly keep the various polls, election days, primary’s, generals, midterms, etc. straight? Let’s explain a bit about the current one, and forget about the rest. We can tackle those as they arise in the future.

Today is a midterm election. What does that mean? It means that we’re voting for representatives in the middle of the president’s term. We aren’t voting for the president today. It’s in the ‘middle’ of his term. It usually refers to elections of upper houses of legislature, ie the House and Senate, where a subset of the seats are up. So why do we do it this way? Checks and balances. If we elected everyone at once, at a selected time every ‘X’ years, what could we do mid-way through if we weren’t happy? Impeach everyone and start from scratch? No.

That’s our current election in a nutshell. I could go on for ages about it, but I’ll spare you all. Thank me later.

And what if your right to choose those people disappeared tomorrow, and you were left with no say, no rights, but still had to follow whatever rules they imposed on you? You wouldn’t be too happy, would you? So then I ask you- why are you sitting at home and not voting in each election? Our neighbourhood back in the US always talks a mean game about voting, but what happens when the voter turnout is published? Last election we were under 20% turnout. 20. Percent. 20!!! If you don’t voice your opinion(if you have the ability of course, sorry ex-pats in the US), you have no right to complain about the people in leadership. Plain and simple.

So I urge you all- GO VOTE. It’s your right. Exercise it.