One US Citizen in Cambodia Amazed By His Vote’s Weight

Neil Youngquist, an American who has lived in Cambodia for six years, was so intent on voting in the US presidential election this year that he almost paid Federal Express $55 to send his absentee ballot home.

His home is Volusia County, in the US state of Flor­ida, one of the coun­ties where Dem­ocratic candidate Al Gore picked up votes in a recount.

Youngquist is one of the handful of voters who may decide who the next US president will be.

He says that it’s eerie to feel “that the fate of the free world is in my hands.”

He pauses, then says, “You know, it’s sort of true.”

Youngquist, a consultant on micro-financing who works with the US-based NGO World Relief, says he thinks it is very important to vote.

“I was really concerned about how to get the ballot safely back to the States,” he says. “Then I saw a FedEx ad in the Inter­nat­ional Herald Tribune, saying they’d send ballots home for free.”

But the office in Phnom Penh knew nothing about it, he said. So he struggled with FedEx’s suggestion that he send it by over­night mail.

“I’m too cheap to want to pay $55,” he says.

He would have done it, however, if a friend hadn’t announced she was going home to the US before the election. She promised to take his ballot and mail it.

“She did ask me who I was voting for, but I wouldn’t tell her,” he says. “I said I was voting for one of the 10 candidates on the ballot.”

Like many Florida residents, never in his wildest dreams did he think his vote would become so crucial. “I am amazed at what the margins have been,” he said. “This is awesome.”

He says since the election on Nov 3, he has talked to a number of US citizens in Cambodia who said they meant to vote but did not get around to it for one reason or another.

“They are kicking themselves,” he says.

Now, he says, he just wants it to be over. “I hope that it isn’t drag­ged out. I hope that one of them stands up soon and says, ‘I con­­cede for the good of the nation.’”

He voted for George W Bush.





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