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Voter flies in from New York to make her ballot count

Carol Filingeri, 49, holds the envelope in which she received her ballot at the Pasco County Government Center on Monday.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Carol Filingeri, 49, holds the envelope in which she received her ballot at the Pasco County Government Center on Monday.

After several unsuccessful hours spent trying to get her Florida absentee ballot Saturday, Carol Filingeri stood in New York's West Village and vowed that somehow, her vote would count.

"If I have to fly down there, I will," Filingeri, a registered Pasco County voter, told herself.

Three hundred dollars on plane tickets and 10 hours of traveling later, Filingeri, 49, was in New Port Richey on Monday, handing in her absentee ballot.

"This is a huge opportunity to be a part of history," she said.

Filingeri moved from Auckland, New Zealand, to New York on Thursday to be closer to her parents in New Port Richey — a 2 1/2-hour flight sure beats 20 hours in the air.

In the haste of the cross-world move, she never sent in for her absentee ballot.

"I'm a bit of a procrastinator," Filingeri said.

Her parents, Julia and Salvatore Filingeri, both 80, tried to send their daughter an absentee ballot Saturday, but missed the last mail pickup.

Filingeri, a registered independent, wasn't going to sit this one out.

"This is a very important election," she said.

Filingeri grew up in Levittown, N.Y., and moved to New Zealand 20 years ago for a relationship that didn't pan out. ("That's a long story.") She worked as a recruiter and kept up on American happenings through the Internet and slightly out-of-date issues of the New Yorker.

Today, she returns to New York, where she plans to spend a year before returning to New Zealand.

After two decades of living there, she said she has gained insight into how America is viewed abroad.

"In general, people like Americans," she said. "But people are bewildered by American politics and how America acts in the international community."

Filingeri said she voted for Barack Obama on Monday.

"It seems so obvious to me when I look at the state of our country," she said. "It's like me coming to vote — when he sees an obstacle, he'll find a way around it."

Brian Corley, Pasco County supervisor of elections, spoke to Filingeri Saturday as she tried to secure her absentee ballot. She called him Monday morning to say she flew to Florida to cast her vote.

"I was amazingly impressed," he said. "That's something I'll be telling my grandchildren about."

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Voter flies in from New York to make her ballot count 11/03/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 6:33pm]
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