In 1996 and 2000 we experienced elections not in the U.S. but in Uganda (we did vote absentee in the U.S. election in 2000, by going to an embassy office and casting a ballot). We stayed close to home on those election days–Jill and I wallpapered our kitchen the day of the 1996 election, so we called that our election wall paper. Violence, threats and payoffs were in the daily papers in months leading up to elections in Uganda. Yoweri Museveni, who helped overthrow Idi Amin, was the president during all our years in Uganda.
Ugandans got a kick out of stories they heard in the 2000 U.S. elections about “hanging chad,” and courts deciding presidents. “Chad is a country in our continent! What is this thing of chad in your country,” they’d ask us.
Pictured here is our friend and landlord during our years in Uganda, Siira Okunga, and his wife, Stella Okunga. They both worked for the telephone company in Jinja. They had just come from the polls and are showing their thumbs, which were dipped in ink to show that they’d voted. This was sort of a post-voting registration system. It was cool to have an ink-dipped thumb that day in Uganda. Did you get your thumb dipped in ink today?