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While some right here don't bother to vote, a Reed College student cast her vote from half a world away

COURTESY OF THE FAMILY - A Reed College exchange student in Italy, who wanted to vote in an Oregon City mayoral election in August, cast her vote with the considerable help of her parents - who carried her ballot to her, and then back to Oregon City - a trip of 12,000 miles.A Reed College student — officially, a resident of Oregon City — felt it was so important to vote in the special mayoral election in August that she asked her father to bring her ballot to her in Europe, where she's currently an exchange student.

The student, who is studying language in Italy, asked us not to print her name, out of privacy concerns. But she agreed to answer questions about why she thinks there should be no excuse for people not to cast their ballots — even if they're studying abroad.

"The younger generation is solely responsible for the future of our communities," she said. "Therefore, it is imperative that we do our part, and voice our concerns and beliefs, in order to shape the society we wish to have in the future. We have to take action now, not tomorrow or years from now."

Oregon City Commission President Denyse McGriff ended up handily winning the mayoral election with about 80% of the vote against three opponents, to become the first person of color and the third woman elected to the position in the city's history. Oregon City's Reed College exchange student declined to say for whom she voted.

Oregon law has firmly established the rights of students and military personnel to vote even if they're temporarily residing outside of the state or country. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, enacted by Congress in 1986, allows Americans living abroad from any state to register for an absentee ballot to be sent to them.

Deadlines for absentee overseas registrations are earlier than for normal ballots, Sept. 24 for absentee ballots (normal ballot registration deadline is Oct. 16) for the November election.

The Reed College exchange student said she was lucky that her father already had a trip to Italy scheduled, and that her mother could drop off the ballot before the August 23 election day.

Starting from her mailbox in Oregon City, the ballot flew to Montreal before flying on to Rome. From Rome, it traveled by train to Perugia, Italy. A city bus then took her father and the ballot to Perugia's historic city center, where it was signed by the Reed College student, who said she really wanted to vote in the mayoral election.

"I take my responsibility to vote seriously and that's why I made sure that even while abroad, my ballot made it back to Oregon," she said. "I encourage others my age to do the same and make sure to use their position to initiate change."

The student had flown to Italy with her mother, who then headed back to Oregon City soon after her father arrived. The ballot then traveled with her mother from Perugia to Florence by train, flew to Munich, flew to Berlin, then traveled by train to Frankfurt.

A couple of days later, the ballot traveled across Germany by high-speed train to Mannheim, took a slow city bus to Worms, Germany — then rode to Frankfurt, and took a flight to Vancouver, British Columbia, followed by a flight to Portland, and a cab ride to Oregon City, logging a total distance of about 12,000 miles. THE BEE verified that the Clackamas County Elections Office did receive the exchange student's ballot in time for the mayoral election. She plans to vote in the upcoming November election as well. Her parents plan to mail that ballot to her in Italy.


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