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Thursday, March 3, 2016

The US Overseas Voter - Finally Getting Some Respect?

I've posted a lot recently on the US election and for those of you who could care less I promise to get back to writing about other things soonest.  Yes, all you Clinton/Sanders/Trump supporters, there are other things going on in the world that are just as (if not more) important as one election in one country which is not even the country most of us are living in, right?

But I did want to note that US overseas voters have been in the news recently and there are some good articles out there that explain why the homeland candidates and voters should pay attention to US citizens living in one or more of the other 190+ nation-states around the world.  Because in some very close races, overseas voters have managed to push a candidate over the top which has led to some very unexpected election results.

Exhibit A is the election in 2000 between George Bush and Al Gore. Aside from all the controversy over the validity of certain ballots, overseas ballots handed the victory to George Bush in Florida which meant a Bush presidency.  And for those of you who are under the illusion that overseas voters are almost always Democrats, well, where is the data that confirm that?  If you live in a country like France where Democrats abroad is very active, you might have that impression but go to countries in Asia and the picture looks very different.  How many Democrats versus Republicans are there in Singapore, for example, or Tokyo?  Even the conventional wisdom that says overseas civilians are Democrats and overseas military are Republican is questionable.

Donald Inbody's research (Grand Army of the Republic or Grand Army of the Republicans) on the military vote showed that enlisted military voters (85% of the military) were "as likely as the general American population to identify with the Republican Party" and were  "half as likely as the general American population to identity with the Democratic Party";  but they were "about four times as likely as the general American population to report themselves as independent or as identifying with a party other than the Republican or Democratic party."

All this makes overseas voters something of a crapshoot for either party. No one knows what impact we will have, only that there will probably be an impact.

Here are some recent stories about overseas American voters in the press that were passed along to me via Facebook.  If you have more, let me know and I will add them.

Americans Abroad Walk into a Bar, and Vote (Michael Forsythe, New York Times):
"While most 'Super Tuesday' voters were still sleeping, voting in the presidential primaries was well underway. 
In Hong Kong."
America's Overseas Voters are Not Impressed (Therese Raphael, BloombergView):
"Though it is undersized (and voter turnout generally even lower than domestic turnout), the vote potential of Expat Man no longer draws dismissive sniggers. Delayed overseas ballots helped give the 2000 election to George W. Bush (an event that Democrats Abroad says led to a tripling in registrations). Voting from abroad also arguably affected other close election contests, including a 2009 New York Congressional race that gave a narrow victory to Democrat Scott Murphy and the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota in which a Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman, was defeated by a wafer-slim margin by Democratic challenger Al Franken."
"Anyone who’s sceptical about the impact of expat voters needs only to think back to the 2000 presidential election, when overseas ballots provided the push that finally put George W. Bush in the White House. As we write in our report, had that election been decided on the ballots that arrived by the 26 November deadline, Al Gore would have won the state of Florida, and therefore the presidential election, by 202 votes."
Some of the first to vote on Super Tuesday were U.S. expatriates in 41 foreign countries (Karla Adam, Washington Post)
"Mike Heffron, a spokesman for Democrats Abroad based in Canberra, Australia, said that some expats prefer to vote in the “global primary” as a way to raise attention for issues that aren’t as important to their friends and family back home. 
A key concern for expats are tax laws, he said, which are thought to be a big reason behind the growing number of Americans renouncing their citizenship. Unlike most countries in the world, the United States imposes taxes based on citizenship, not residence."


JC said...

Another great post, Victoria.
For many people in USA, Fatca is stupid too.
It is such an overreaching law.It make investing and operating any oversea business very complicated. This eventually will weaken USA economies in the future. We don't need more laws or TPP. These regulations are designed to make thing complicated, and make lawyers busy.

Anonymous said...

It is about time to vote FATCA out.

Anonymous said...

I say we vote for ex.Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chretien as US president, based on the US residency of his father. See his speech to that effect:

Previous Liberal Prime Minister – Jean Chretien recently joked in a speech to the Canadian American Business Council that he had US birthright (via his father) sufficient to enter the US, and to run for President:


Shirl Morrigan said...

Are you OK??? Are you in Brussels? We are thinking of you.
Shirl and Rowan

Christophe said...

Please make a quick post to let your readers know you're OK.

Anonymous said...

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi folks,

Doing just fine. Feeling a bit like I dodged something that came too close for comfort.
I was in the Brussels airport the previous Friday and I was at Schumann (near Maelbeek) the day prior to the attack. Yesterday the police brought down a gunman about 5 minutes away from my appartment.

But you know what? I am going out tonight and I'm going to have a good time with some great people.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Rosie the Riveter said...

Why is the absentee ballot so damned complicated to download, to print on A4 paper (remember, we're voting from abroad, guys), insert into that ridiculously small home-printed envelope in which you also have to insert the affidavit and which requires a roll of scotch tape to seal - and that is if you can find the instructions in clear English...and then you get a mail telling you that there may have been an error on the ballots and please download a new one again (no change noticed, BTW). Folding the thing(s) is another matter - if you can figure out how to do it. I called the number given for questions - and got cut off 3 times before I got someone - who had never even seen an absentee ballot and didn't know anything about it. Nice work Guys ! And hits is respect for overseas voters ? More like an obstacle course !

Unknown said...

HI Rosie. I agree 100%. I am in Spain and am also having trouble printing my ballot for the same reason. I fear it won't be scanned and will be voided for this reason. I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer from the election officials. Voting from abroad should not be any more difficult than voting from the States. We should be able, for example, to vote from the embassy.

Rosie the Riveter said...

Hi, call the election board number on your ballot mail and request a paper ballot. They will send you one.. But hurry !