EDMOND — A ballot cast by an Edmond man 8,370 miles from home will be counted today in Oklahoma's elections.
Brett Shreck, a missionary living in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is voting this election season from somewhere other than in Oklahoma for the first time. He feels it is his duty to vote no matter how far away he is from his polling place.
"Living in a country where the government is for the people and by the people, I think it is our duty to vote," Shreck said. "If it was not for each individual vote there could be no collective voice."
Shreck, his wife, and four children — two are sons the couple adopted in Rwanda in 2007 — have been in Rwanda since February. They plan to be there until 2013. The Shrecks and three other families serving in Rwanda attended Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.
Shreck is there with Rwanda Outreach and Community Partners, an Oklahoma faith-based nonprofit organization. He is working with a primary and secondary school he helped start in Rwanda and an urban African church. The organization also helps send top Rwandan students to the United States to get college educations.
"Our primary focus is sharing our faith in Christ while helping build a strong, educated and entrepreneurial middle class in Rwanda," Shreck said.
Shreck received his ballot by e-mail and went to the only five-star hotel in Rwanda to fax it back to Oklahoma. It cost him $35.
The father of two daughters said he is especially interested in the governor's race, since Oklahoma will elect its first female governor.
"I will be proud the see that we will have our first woman governor of Oklahoma," he said.
Earlier this year, Shreck, 41, witnessed the Africans' interest and excitement during the re-election of President Paul Kagame.
"The peaceful elections here was a great reminder to me of how often we take free and peaceful elections for granted," said Shreck. "I feel an obligation to participate in that process since so many do not get to play such an important role in choosing their country's leadership.
"Living in Africa I am very aware that not all countries have free and fair elections, and I do not take my right to vote lightly."