Americans in the Czech Republic wait for a winner

Today’s has a story about US expats waiting for the election results, which I’ll translate here:

Americans in the Czech Republic wait for a winner

Americans living abroad showed great interest in the presidential election this year as opposed to previous elections, and that was shown not only in voter turnout, but also in interest in election results: a large number of people waited for results in restaurants.

Tens of people – politicians, businessmen, academics and diplomats (including representatives from the French embassy) – came to the US ambassador’s residence. All guests were drawn by election night, which officially lasted until 1 am, when the first results from the US east coast started to appear.

“I have Kerry posters. Anybody want one?” asked Creag Hayes, who has lived in the Czech Republic seven years and as a volunteer leads the Democratic Party’s organization here. The ambassador’s residence – including the staircases – were full of people, many of whom had lapel pins with Republican Party emblems and Bush-Cheney 2004 posters.

Red, white and blue balls hung on the walls, and guests voted in the hall. Every visitor received a ballot, on which they could check either Bush or Kerry.

Long night ended with post-election breakfast

The question “who did you vote for?” was heard often, and the majority of debates turned on the possible outcome of the election, even if it appeared that all would have to wait numerous hours to hear the outcome. Nevertheless, the embassy is organizing a post-election breakfast, when things will be clearer.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the ambassador’s residence, a panel discussion was taking place. Elsewhere, news stations ran on large screens. And of course food had to be there. Mainly traditional American hamburgers, which each person could “construct” from individual ingredients.

This year’s elections for Americans living abroad differed from previous ones. They are perceived as key, even for those who aren’t usually interested.

“Four years ago, even people who had an opinion on who should be president didn’t see the elections as important. I voted, but lots of people didn’t,” said Creag Hayes. In the last year, he helped Americans living in Prague with voter registration forms. Each US resident living abroad must fill out such a form and, either by themselves or through a volunteer like Hayes, send it back to their voting district in the USA. Only then would they receive a ballot.

Hayes said interest in the election was huge this year, adding that he sent 500 to 600 registration forms. He was convinced that Kerry would win, and if he wasn’t a Democrat, he wouldn’t have tried to convince Americans to vote against Bush. He even registered several Republicans.

Hayes was also the organizer of an “election party” at the Jama restaurant in Prague. Similar events were organized by the Prague Post English-language newspaper at the Zlatá hvězda sport bar. Hayes expected that a lot of Americans living in Prague would attend the parties so that they could follow the election results. All expected a long night, because the first serious estimates were to appear after 2 am; things should be clearer around 7 or 8 am at the earliest.

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