GEELONG—In a room consisting of Americans from the Geelong and Melbourne areas, Democrats Abroad Australia’s (DAA) Victoria chapter heard from several members on matters ranging from expatriate taxation to registering voters on college campuses to congressional hearings. A larger-than-expected turnout led to higher participation among members in soliciting ideas and volunteering for chapter initiatives.

The Chair of DAA-Victoria, Thomas Lopez, opened the meeting with a discussion on why he and others remain involved with U.S. politics while living thousands of miles away from the homeland. Responses included reasons such as regaining America’s reputation lost to President Trump’s ill-advised policies, reforming the U.S. tax code to improve the financial well-being of Americans abroad, and several other reasons cited.

The dialogue then evolved to a reminder for members who vote in Virginia, Utah, Alabama, or New Jersey to cast their ballot in upcoming special elections. Meanwhile, the Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appear to be on edge stemming from their controversial votes supporting the repeal and replacement of the highly popular Affordable Care Act. As Democrats move forward in spreading a populist message on improving American policies, Republicans in Congress are scrambling in disarray and showing vulnerability in leading up to Election Day in November 2018. Only 24 House seats need to be flipped from red to blue in preserving a Democratic majority and thus halt the misaligned Trump agenda.

Chair, Thomas Lopez, explaining the Victoria Chapter's strategy for increasing and engaging membership.

Heading the DAA-Victoria task force on voter registration, Melburnian Marybeth Yarosh brainstormed several suggestions in getting local college students from the U.S. registered to vote and participate in DAA activities. With several ideas worth pursuing, members interested in assisting with the Task Force should contact the chapter’s Chair.

Lopez also reiterated the importance of Democratic get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts in 2018 in the chapter’s “take back Congress” goal heading into the mid-terms.

“Working toward a high voter turnout is our top priority, especially from U.S. citizens in Australia. But there’s so much more we as Americans abroad can do besides simply casting a ballot,” Lopez said. “We can encourage as many Americans in Victoria as possible to ensure their voter registration status is up to date back in their home state. We can make phone calls to voters in any U.S. district to remind them to vote. We can talk to our friends and family who are still undecided on who to vote for. We can donate to GOTV efforts in several capacities. With the Trump-McConnell-Ryan agenda slowly destroying everything great about America, I can assure you Victorian Democrats are fired up and eager to repeal and replace Republicans.”

Additionally, local members from the Geelong region expressed high interest in becoming more involved with DAA activism. Mr Lopez spoke of his desire to reach out to more Democrats outside of the Melbourne region and ensuring their inclusion in the chapter’s efforts. “One of the things I promised our members back when I was running for chair was that I wanted to do everything I could to bring into the fold those Democrats who aren’t able to regularly attend meetings in Melbourne. Today is only the first of hopefully many other face-to-face meetings around Victoria. I look forward to meeting all of Victoria’s members and encouraging them to become involved, volunteer, and ultimately, vote.”

Lopez hinted at a surprise special guest speaker at a chapter meeting shortly. The membership was reminded to save November 13th on their calendar as a potential meeting in Melbourne’s CBD area upon confirming details. With the American winter season inching closer, DAA members in Victoria approaching summer are scorching hot and motivated to take action and continue growing its membership.

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Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party for Americans residing outside of U.S. states and territories. The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia is an active and dedicated group of members that primarily focus on exercising their right to vote from abroad and electing Democratic candidates, in addition to raising awareness of and advocating for issues that concern Americans living abroad.
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