Floridian living abroad thankful for ballot


BUDAPEST, Nov. 12 (JTA) – Marc Servin spends most of his time in central Italy, but is a registered voter in Florida’s Broward County. He had never before voted in a presidential election until he cast his absentee ballot this year for the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am to an American friend in Italy who made sure that I got an absentee ballot and voted,” Servin said.

“I never would have guessed that Florida would even have relevance in this election, much less that everyone else in the world would be wondering about the absentee ballots from Florida.”

Servin, 50, and his wife, Helaine Treitman, run an international school of art in Italy. On Election Day this year, he was on vacation in Budapest.

Servin and his wife both regard themselves as Democrats, but he said they had not thought of voting absentee until a friend put the pressure on.

“The first time I became aware of an election I was out of the country and then I stopped caring,” he said. “I’ve been living most of the time out of the country for 10 years and had no idea even how – or if – we could vote.

“I had heard of absentee voting, but I wasn’t part of a community where that knowledge was around,” he said. “I was in a small village with few other Americans around.”

This year, said Servin, he was “pretty emphatically against Bush being president,” but he didn’t do anything about voting until an American friend convinced him and Treitman to get absentee ballots.

“She is one of the few other Jews we know in Italy,” he said. “We usually get together for seders. She came and told us that we had to vote. She nudged us and nudged us, and kept reminding us to do it ’til we did. I’m really grateful.”

Servin said that he went online and downloaded ballot application material. Once he had the ballot in hand, he said, it turned out that DHL Worldwide Express had an arrangement to deliver ballots to the states for free.

“So we did it – it was easy,” he said. “We delivered our ballots to DHL on Oct. 31, so they should have arrived by Election Day – but who knows?”

Servin said the experience had taught him a lesson.

“No one will ever tell me again that our votes don’t count,” he said. “I will certainly vote in future elections, too.”

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