Amie holding voting instructions in front of the Phnom Penh Canadian Embassy

We might be living in Cambodia for the time, but we’re still Canadian citizens and as good citizens, we cast our votes in this year’s federal elections from halfway around the world.

It wasn’t an easy process so for all you Canadians on home soil  GO VOTE, and don’t take for granted the ease of walking down the street, showing ID and marking the ballot. Here’s what we had to do:

1. Find the Canadian embassy in Phnom Penh. Ok, not hard so far. Get registration form.

2. Fax registration form to Canada for special ballot registration. For this we needed photo ID with address on it (ie. Driver’s licence). To make a long story short, we didn’t have this ID up to date. Steve used an old photocopy of a cancelled licence and Amie used a valid one but with an old address. So we ended up getting registered in districts that we haven’t lived in for a while. Who knows if our votes will actually get counted in the end. The fax we found (likely from the 80s) was so slow that it cost us $8US, which is half a month’s rent for a local.

3. Get our special voting kits, we can’t believed it actually worked out that the
embassy actually received our special voting kits cause the whole process of faxing everything was just too sketchy. So another trip to the embassy and this time a ¶« hour bike ride away on the other side of the city. The special ballots just had a blank line where we were supposed to write our chosen candidate’s name. They just happened to not have the candidate list available that day. Great! We decided to check the internet but it was apparently down at the embassy for the day. We were sent next door to the Australian embassy. Just our luck, the guest computer was broken and the embassy rep could barely speak english. So we had to spend another ¶« hour looking for an internet cafe¸.

4. We marked our ballots, and each stuffed it into the inner envelope, then into the outer envelope, then into the mailing envelope. Easy! Ready to send!

Really though, all the envelopes and all, we’re thankful that the country we call home is democratic and that our votes were guaranteed to be anonymous – not something that happens in Cambodia which is one of the most corrupt in the world. Insane experience. But important too. By casting our ballots for the Canadian elections, we felt we were somehow making a small difference in the world and not taking democracy for granted.

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