Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed a subtle change in the appearance of our web pages for the past couple of days. Over the past several months, Luis and Anita (who run San Felipe’s premier website solutions company To The Nines Wenb Agency ) have been building a new site with a new theme. It is a really huge task to migrate a website the size of the San Felipe site to a new system and to test it. After all, there are pages of history built with Adobe PageMill (if anyone still remembers this early website building tool) going back to 1997. In fact there are well over 4000 pages and tens of thousands of pictures from the past that will provide some remarkable insights on a bygone era in San Felipe development for computer “archeologists” of the future. Stay tuned as we experiment and bear with us if any of your favorite features appear to be missing. Rome was not built in a day! Right now, we are back to the old way of doing things while we assess the comments and feedback from some of our testers.
Over the weekend, Doug Magee from Gonzaga reminded me that the US is introducing new regulations for absentee voters living abroad. Here are the highlighs:
Be an active voter. Start thinking about your participation in the U.S. 2012 elections today!
The Consular Section staff at the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana is ready to assist you in completing your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) — the form you need to complete this year to register to vote in the 2012 elections as an overseas absentee voter. Our purpose is to inform and educate you about your voting rights, to ensure you are able to exercise your right to participate in elections for federal offices (President, Vice President, Senator, and Representative), and to assist you with voting in state or local elections, if allowed by your state.
New absentee voting laws are in effect for the 2012 elections. You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request. All U.S. citizens outside of the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot in the 2012 primary and general elections must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad. States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election. No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state). You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line. Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option. This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend that every overseas voter take advantage of it. Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website www.FVAP.gov.
Beginning in January 2012, presidential primaries will be held in the states of New Hampshire (January 10), South Carolina (January 21), Florida (January 31), Missouri (February 7), Wisconsin (February 21), Arizona (February 28), and Michigan (February 28). Other states will follow throughout the spring and summer. Voter registration deadlines for primaries are as early as January 3, 2012. Note: Participation in party presidential caucuses by overseas voters is not protected by federal law and requires in-person attendance in most cases. If the party you are affiliated with selects presidential nominees by caucus in your state contact state party officials for further information.
You can obtain a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) at FVAP’s website. The FPCA is accepted by all local election officials in all U.S. states and territories. It allows you to register to vote and request absentee ballots for all elections for federal offices (presidential and state primaries, run-off, special, and the November general elections) during the course of the year. An online wizard will help you complete the form. Depending on your state’s voting requirements, you then either send in the FPCA electronically or mail it to your local election officials. To mail it, print out the completed FPCA and the (U.S.) postage-paid envelope containing the address of your local election officials. If you bring in your forms or ballots to us we will mail them back home for you without you having to pay for international mail. If it’s easier for you to use Mexico’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient postage and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery. Of course, if you wish and have the opportunity, you may still mail your ballot yourself directly from the United States.
If you want to submit your ballot through the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana, you may drop it off with someone from our staff in the American Citizen Services waiting room. In Baja California Sur, you may drop your ballot off in person at the Consular Agency. We are here to serve you.
Even if your state does not have a presidential primary in the early months of 2012, it is important that you submit a new Federal Post Card Application this and every January to receive all absentee ballots for which you are eligible. By applying early, you also allow enough time for election officials to contact you and resolve any questions or problems with your registration/ballot request.
Remember that your vote counts, and that many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%. All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it’s valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline.
Be an Educated Voter. Check out the FVAP links page for helpful resources that will aid your research of candidates and issues. Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues are widely available and easy to obtain via numerous websites such as Project Smart Voter. You can also read national and hometown newspapers on-line, or search the Internet to locate articles and information. For information about election dates and deadlines, subscribe to FVAP’s Voting Alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org). FVAP also shares Voting Alerts via Facebook and Twitter.
If you have any questions about registering to vote overseas, please contact the US Consulate General’s Voting Assistance Officer at (664) 997-2000, or at ACSTijuana@state.gov.
Also over the weekend we saw the start of the Posadas for the Christmas season. Many people participate in the parades that leave the Arches each evening and proceed down Chetumal to the center of town and to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadelupe.
There were also a number of people who contacted me about the acrid smell in the air and haze over the town that caused burning sensations in the eyes. The phenomenon was easily visible on Saturday and Sunday from our tidecamera.
Some people contend that it was connected to the burning of rubbish at the dump in the desert that started on Friday:
This is a necessary procedure to reduce the volume of trash and to stop any toxic pollutants from seeping into the groundwater if rain is expected. The burn on Friday was started when the winds were blowing south towards the airport but an unexpected shift in the winds may have brought some small part of the smoke out into the bay. The traces of rain we had on Sunday and Monday were enough to clear the air.