News

Volunteer with the DA Global Working Groups

It's up to us! President Obama left us with this message in his farewell address.  

In addition to being involved with Democrats Abroad at the local chapter or national level, there are a number of ways to volunteer through the Democrats Abroad global working groups. Connect with Democrats around the world and make a difference.  See the Google form at the end to sign up!

DA Action Team (DAAT)  

Every day we hear of more big and small actions we could/should be taking to resist the destructive plans and actions of the Trump administration.  Many of us are being asked daily by numerous groups to take action, many country committees are already developing responses, and on our website suggestions to call Congress are being regularly updated (at: http://www.democratsabroad.org/congressional_call_storm). Our members want to be able to help from wherever they live, want us to provide a place where they can participate and initiate action.

DA Caucuses

Our LGBT Caucus, Women’s Caucus and Young DA Caucus leaders are revved up since the election to ramp up Caucus efforts to protect and fight for equal rights and to expand their membership and effectiveness.  They’re looking for a contact person in each country committee for each of these Caucuses, and to expand their “steering committees.”  

 
We need to establish a process to determine which issues global DA will take up and/or defend, and what specific actions we can/should most effectively take.  We want to make sure that we act efficiently on ideas that bubble up and across the DA globe, AND we want to use our worldwide reach judiciously and effectively. We need to review and expand our arsenal of tools and coordinate our advocacy actions.

We’d also like to know if anyone is interested to help forma Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, AAPI Caucus, Minority Caucus, Senior Caucus, Veterans & Military Families Caucus or another group.

Charter/Bylaws/Rules Committee

This committee will review and possibly offer amendments to a number of our guiding document, from the DA Charter to model Country Committee  bylaws and Country Committee election guidelines to make sure that these important documents meet our needs and are in line with each other. 

Voting Issues Group (VIG)

A number of DA leaders from the GOTV and IT teams have started developing a list of general and state-specific problems encountered by overseas voters in 2016.  We will be sharing our findings with the State Dept, Congress, the FVAP (Federal Voting Assistance Program), the DNC, state parties, the Uniform Law Commission and local and state election officials to ask for help to resolve these issues.

2017 DPCA Global Meeting

The Democrats Abroad International AGM will be held in the U.S. (May 12-15 in Arlington, VA).  The following events need to be planned:  DPCA business meeting including reports, resolutions, Charter amendment discussions, trainings, feedback and “looking to the future” sessions, elections and social events.  Holding the meeting in the DC area provides ample opportunities for super guest speakers.  

2017 Door Knock

This volunteer activity is especially useful if you plan to be in DC for the Democrats Abroad International AGM.  On May 16-17, after the DPCA Global Meeting, we will conduct our 2017 Democrats Abroad DC Door Knock.  We’ll call on Congress (both Houses and perhaps again both sides of the aisle) and key staff, as well as officials from other relevant government agencies to advocate for issues of concern to overseas Americans.  These Door Knock sessions have been extremely productive and fun and provide excellent opportunities for us to carry our message(s) to Washington.  As we’ve organized increasingly large and small Door Knocks in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, twice in 2015 and in 2016, we’ve developed an effective model. 
 
For this Door Knock, we’ll adapt the model to:  determine 2017 advocacy topics, update or develop leave-behind-packs, set up appointments, set up morning meetings at DNC with guest speakers, establish and lightly train teams and team leaders.  
 
LINK TO THE GOOGLE FORM

 
If you would like to work with any of these global teams, please let us know on this google form link provided below.  
 
https://goo.gl/forms/ub5mgYnyF1E7y8Ey1


DA Australia AGM Sat, 18 March in Sydney & Nominations Open for ExCom roles

Democrats Abroad Australia will hold its annual general meeting, including the election of national country committee officers, on Saturday, 18 March in Sydney.  The AGM will be held at the North Sydney Community Centre from 10:00am - 12:00pm (9:30am morning tea and optional post-AGM lunch at a nearby venue).

All DAA members are welcome to attend the AGM, either in person or by remote access through Webex.  All DAA members are eligible to vote in the election, either in person, by proxy vote or remote ballot.  The AGM must have the participation of at least 20 members to meet quorum. Further details about the AGM and voting to be announced shortly.

Nominations for Country Committee Officers Now Open Until 3 March 2017

The following DA Country Committee positions are open:  Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Counsel. 

Country Committee Officers hold office for two years.  They must be members of Democrats Abroad at the time of the election and for the duration of their two-year term.  The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be of the opposite gender.  Country Committee Officers must meet at least quarterly each year (in person or remotely).  Duties and responsibilities of each officer are listed below. The five officers comprise the DAA Executive Committee.

Members may self-nominate for any of the Officer roles.  Candidate statements are due in writing by 11:59pm, Friday 3 March to the Chair of the Nominations Committee, Todd St Vrain via [email protected]  The candidate statement should be 1 page maximum, highlighting the candidate’s background, relevant skills and experience, motivation and objectives in seeking office, noting any existing involvement with Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party.  It's helpful to know the amount of time you have to devote to DA Australia.  The candidate statements will be shared with DAA Australia members prior to the election. Candidates are also welcome to submit a video of their candidacy in addition to a written statement.

Those interested to run for office are highly encouraged to contact the Nominations Committee to have a complete understanding of the roles, responsibilities and time commitments.  The Nominations Committee are:

Todd St Vrain (Committee Chair), [email protected]; 0413 722 719 (Sydney-based)
Ersie Burke, [email protected]; 0434 192 810 (Melbourne-based)
Chris Stueckle, [email protected]; 0403 676 439 (Melbourne-based)

None of the Nominations Committee members are seeking elected positions.  In the months following the election of DAA national officers, the Executive Committee will either conduct elections of local chapter leaders or appoint members to serve at the local chapter level.

Executive Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Chair

The Chair shall be the chief executive officer of the organization, shall call and preside at all meetings of members and of the Executive Committee, and shall have responsibility for all activities approved by the organization. The Chair shall sit ex-officio on all committees of the organization including any Standing Committees, with full voting privileges. The Chairperson shall be a member of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA).


The Chair must attend either in person or via Webex and vote in the biannual International AGM of Democrats Abroad.  The next DA International AGM will be held in Washington DC 13 - 14 May 2017.  (The Chair may delegate proxy votes if unable to participate).

The Chair is expected to attend (in person or via Webex) and vote in the Asia Pacific regional caucus and the DA Convention in the year of a US general election.  (Proxy voting not allowed).

The Chair is encouraged to attend the monthly DA Asia-Pacific regional phone meeting.  The Chair often serves as spokesperson for DA Australia but these responsibilities can be shared or assigned to other members in Democrats Abroad.

The Chair must not be of the same gender as the Vice-Chair.

 Vice-Chair

In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair shall call and preside at meetings of members and of the Executive Committee. The Vice-Chair shall have such other duties as the Chair shall define. The Vice-Chair shall become Country Chair in case of a vacancy in the office of Country Chair until the next Annual General Meeting at which Officer Elections are held.  The Vice-Chair shall be a member of the DPCA.

The Vice-Chair must attend either in person or via Webex and vote in the biannual International AGM of Democrats Abroad.  The next DA International AGM will be held in Washington DC 13 - 14 May 2017.  (The Vice-Chair may delegate proxy votes if unable to participate).


The Vice-Chair is expected to attend (in person or via Webex) and vote in the Asia Pacific regional caucus and the DA Convention in the year of a US general election.  (Proxy voting not allowed).

The Vice-Chair is encouraged to share responsibility of participating in the monthly DA Asia-Pacific phone meeting.  

The Vice-Chair must not be of the same gender as the Chair.

Secretary

The Secretary shall maintain the member database, minutes of all meetings and all files and administrative records of the organization. The Chair may appoint member Database Manager(s) to fulfil the obligations imposed by the DPCA for the maintenance of the current list of members. The Secretary shall maintain an active correspondence with the Local Chapter contacts.  At meetings requiring a quorum the Secretary shall confirm a quorum of members is in attendance in person or by proxy per the current member database. 

Treasurer

The Treasurer shall manage the finances of the organization, maintain its financial reports to members and prepare such financial reports and submissions as may be required by law. The Treasurer shall prepare and present to the Annual General Meeting of DA Australia a Statement of Income and Expenses based on a fiscal year ending 31 March and a Balance Sheet as of 31 March. The Treasurer shall maintain a full understanding of the laws and regulations of Australia and ensure that financial reports, returns and other submissions required of the organization under the laws and regulations/regulatory bodies of Australia are tendered in full and on time. In association with the Counsel, the Treasurer shall maintain a robust understanding of the regulations of the Federal Election Commission and, to the best of his/her ability, ensure the organization and Local Chapters are operating in compliance with them.  The Treasurer shall have signature power over all bank or other financial accounts held in the name of DA Australia. 

Counsel

The Counsel shall be available for consultation by the Committee or its officers on legal and procedural questions relating to DA Australia and its activities. In association with the Treasurer, the Counsel shall maintain a robust understanding of the regulations of the Federal Election Commission and ensure, to the best of his/her ability, ensure the organization and Local Chapters are operating in compliance with them, liaising with the International Counsel of Democrats Abroad as necessary.

We look forward to everyone's participation in the AGM and election, and receiving nominations for the Executive Committee.

A copy of the DA Australia by-laws is available here.  


Minutes of the Victorian Chapter planning meeting -- December 2016

On Saturday, December 10, 2016, the Victorian Chapter of Democrats Abroad Australia held a meeting at the Kingston Hotel in Richmond. The focus of the meeting was to plan for the future in growing member engagement, encouraging people to remain politically active during the Trump presidency, and supporting each other through social events. 

See minutes here: https://www.scribd.com/book/335887643/Democrats-Abroad-Australia-Victoria-Chapter-Minutes-2016-12-10

Stay tuned for next steps!


Where's your ballot? Here are some answers!

Lots of people are starting to ask "Where's my ballot?”  Here some helpful answers from Democrats Abroad, to ensure that every ballot counts towards victories in the White House, Congress and beyond.

Requesting Your Ballot
If you have not yet requested your ballot (states are no longer required to automatically send ballots), you urgently need to do so via www.votefromabroad.org.  Many states' deadlines to register are approaching in early October.  Find out your state's registration deadlines.

Have you checked your email for your ballot?
Ballots are either on their way or have started to arrive.  A number of states are now sending their ballots by email, so check your in box and spam folders!  Contact your local election officials to see if your ballot has been sent. 

FWABs are your best ballot friend
If you have not received your ballot by the 1st week of October, complete a Federal Write In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  A FWAB is back-up, and in some states can also serve as a voter registration form.  If your regular absentee ballot arrives later, fill it out and send it back too.  Your FWAB will be counted only if your regular ballot doesn’t reach your local election officials by your state’s deadline.

Sending your ballot back
Sometimes it's due on Election Day, sometimes it has to be postmarked on Election Day. Sometimes you can return by fax, sometimes by mail. Know how and when to return your ballot to your state office

You can drop off your ballot request and ballot at the US Consulate for free.  Allow for 7 days to reach the States.  Allow for enough time at the Consulate to go through security.  **Maybe** FedEx will once again offer free service to send in absentee ballots. Watch this space.

Got questions?
Don’t reply this email.  Your local state election officials should be your first point of call.  Consult the VoteFromAbroad Help Desk for resources and to send in a question.  The following US Consulates also offer voter assistance:

Why is Washington DC calling me?
If you get a call from a 202 number, it's not the White House.  It's a friendly call from Democrats Abroad Australia about absentee ballot voting.  And you're welcome to make some calls to DA Australia members - our current campaign is contacting members voting in battleground states.


Help Get Out the American Vote in Australia

You can help make a difference this election by volunteering in one of the following ways: Phone Bank Team, the Voter Information Help Team, or as a Social Media Promoter!

1. Get Out the Vote Phone Bank Team

Make some calls to fellow members of Democrats Abroad Australia to remind them to Request, Receive and Return ballots any time between now and mid-October.  This year we're using an online system called CallHub to make the calls.

  • You'll need your own computer or laptop (CallHub doesn't work on tablets like iPads)
  • The computer makes the call for you and Democrats Abroad pays for the call.
  • You'll have a sample script to follow.
  • You are in control of your time: you can call as many members as you would like, at any time that’s convenient to you. Got a spare 15 minutes one day during lunch, a few free hours a couple of nights per week? Whatever works best for you!

Instructions to Sign Up for Phone Banking 
a. Log on to Democrats Abroad at https://democratsabroad.nationbuilder.com/login (Only US citizens can be DA members  & volunteer)

b. Copy http://www.democratsabroad.org/voter_support_team into your browser once you are logged on.

c. Select 'phone banking' (see below about the GOTV Help Desk Team)

d. Select the number of calls you think you can make in any given week of the GOTV campaign. 20 - 50 calls a week is actually about an hour's worth of time for democracy, because the calls are short and you'll get a fair number of voice malls and invalid phone numbers.

e. Sign the confidentiality agreement and submit!

f.  CallHub works best on the Google Chrome browser.  You can download it at https://www.google.com/chrome/

g. Activate your CallHub account by clicking the link in the email sent to you with your username.  (It may take up to 10 minutes for the email to be sent).  Be sure to note your username!

i. Bookmark https://app.callhub.io/login/

j. To start making calls, click on "Join Campaign".  Make sure your microphone is enabled and that you are using the Chrome browser.

k. Democrats Abroad is charged for each second you are within a campaign. Once you join a campaign, please keep calling! Be sure to click on “Leave Campaign” when you take a break or are done making calls. 

Here some resources to look over, before or after you sign up for CallHub!

a. Getting Started With CallHub Video
b. CallHub Overview
c.  Video with sample CallHub phone calls
c. CallHub Do's and Dont's

2. Get Out the Vote Voter Information Team

Be a part of the global team responding to emails sent into VoteFromAbroad and Democrats Abroad.  You'll get training to help direct voters to resources for all their answers.

Instructions to Sign Up for the Voter Info Help Team

a. Log on to Democrats Abroad at https://democratsabroad.nationbuilder.com/login (Only US citizens can be DA members  & volunteer)

b. Copy http://www.democratsabroad.org/voter_support_team into your browser once you are logged on.

c. Select 'voter information'

d. Select the estimate of your time commitment.

e.  More info will be sent to you by email shortly!  Sample Voter Information Resources

3. Be a Social Media Promoter

Post or tweet about www.votefromabroad.org, a great resource to request absentee ballots and voter information. Take a selfie of you sending in your ballot request or absentee ballot.  There's nothing like the positive pressure of social media!


How to Register and Vote from Abroad in Australia for the November Election

As one of the estimated 8.7 million overseas American, including 100,000 strong here in Australia, your vote is your voice to make a difference in the races for the White House, Congress and at the state level.

You vote in the November election by absentee ballot in the state that was your last domicile in the United States. Recent legislation requires that expat Americans must register and request an absentee ballot every election year, regardless of what you've done in the past.

If you voted in the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary or did not vote in your state primary, you must request an absentee ballot.  If you voted in your state's primary, you don't need to request an absentee ballot again.

Most states start mailing their absentee ballots 45 days before the November election, so NOW until mid-September is the time to request your absentee ballot.  Use the user-friendly https://www.votefromabroad.org to download your ballot request.  The site will give you instructions on how and where to mail your ballot requests.

Know your state's election deadlines! For questions, please consult the VoteFromAbroad Voter Help Desk or contact your Local Election Officials.  You can also contact the following US consulates in Australia with questions about absentee balloting:


Voting is one way to make a difference.  You can also help Get Out the Vote!


Voting in the Primaries

Voting has now closed for the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary. We've had a tremendous response, with many new members. Results will be released by 21 March.

If you did not vote in the Global Presidential Primary, you may still be able to vote in your state's upcoming primary.  Please check VoteFromAbroad at https://www.votefromabroad.org/vote/svid.htm

For US citizens born abroad and who have not resided in the US, click here for a list of states that allow you to vote.


Resources For Filing Your U.S. Taxes from Australia

Democrats Abroad Australia does not offer tax advice or endorse specific tax consultants.  But following are some resources to help you with all the complexities of filing as an overseas resident.

List of U.S. tax consultants in Australia from the U.S. Consulate’s website
American Citizens Abroad Tax Return Preparer Australia Directory
IRS info page on taxpayers living abroad 

You might also like to post your tax question or tip to the Democrats Abroad Australia Facebook page.  Let's help each other out!


Vote in the Global Presidential Primary in Australia!

AMERICAN CITIZENS LIVING IN AUSTRALIA: VOTE IN THE 2016 GLOBAL PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY (GPP)

From January 11 to March 8 Democrats living all over the world, including Australia, will participate in the Presidential Nominating Process of the Democratic Party, together with our fellow citizens living in the United States. Only the Democratic Party gives this opportunity to its members living overseas. Through our Global Presidential Primary, we will help choose the 2016 Democratic Nominee for President of the United States.

WHY VOTE IN THE GLOBAL PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY?

Watch the 5 minute video explaining how and why! 

Download your ballot (to vote by email scan, fax or post by 8 March).  

Don't like your income tax being taxed twice? Not a fan of the cumbersome effects of FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act)? The more people who vote in the GPP, the more power we have within the Democratic Party and with government officials to lobby for changes that affect overseas Americans!

Democrats Abroad will be sending 21 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, with the number of pledged delegates proportional to the results of the GPP. 

WHO CAN VOTE IN THE GPP?

Any American citizen living abroad, who will be at least 18 years old on Election Day 2016, and who is a member of Democrats Abroad is eligible to participate, on the condition of not having voted (or intending to vote) for a presidential candidate in any other state primary in 2016.

HOW DO I JOIN DEMOCRATS ABROAD AND WHAT DOES DEMOCRATS ABROAD MEMBERSHIP ENTAIL?

Just visit www.democratsabroad.org/join and complete the form in a matter of minutes.  By signing up, you are becoming a member of the U.S. Democratic Party and an official part of its overseas community.  There are no membership fees. Country chapters hold all kinds of events and meetings, as well as communication about elections and issues.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M ALREADY A MEMBER OF DEMOCRATS ABROAD?

Sign in at https://democratsabroad.nationbuilder.com/login to check.  As DA has a new website you may need to activate your account on the new site. Be sure your contact details are current so we can easily reach you by phone and email to remind you about important things like absentee ballot deadlines.  (If you are getting emails from DA, you are a member.  Some people choose not to receive emails but are still counted as members.

HOW CAN I VOTE IN THE GPP?

More than 300 members voted in person in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.  Only remote voting via email, fax or mail is now available through 8 March.

  1. Download your ballot form 

  2. Follow the instructions carefully!  Here are some helpful hints:
    1. Sign and date the ballot by 8 March 2016
    2. Send in your ballot: 
       i.    Email:  Scan by 8 March your completed ballot to [email protected] 
      This will send your ballot directly to the DA International Chair, not to the Australia Chair.  See the ballot form for more insturctions.
    3. ii.    Fax:  Send by 8 March your completed ballot to +1-888-958-6739
      iii.    Mail:  Your completed ballot must be RECEIVED (not postmarked) by 13 March:
      1. International Chair Democrats Abroad
         Stettenerstr. 61 83209 Prien, Germany

CAN I VOTE IN MY HOME STATE PRIMARY AND IF SO, HOW?

Yes and No.  If you vote for a presidential candidate in our Global Primary, then you cannot vote for a presidential candidate in your home state primary.   However, you may vote for Senator, Congressional Representative, Governor, state reps, etc. in your home state primary.  First, find your state's requirements and deadlines. Second, request an absentee ballot.  

IF I VOTE IN THE GLOBAL PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, DOES THAT MEAN I VOTE THROUGH DEMOCRATS ABROAD RATHER THAN MY STATE IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION?

No!  Members of Democrats Abroad have the option to select the Democratic candidate through Democrats Abroad rather than their state ONLY during the primaries.  Voting in November is still done through your state and you still have to register and request a ballot from your state.

WHAT INFORMATION IS REQUIRED ON MY BALLOT?

Your full legal name, date of birth, your country of residence, address of residence in France (or the Country where you live and in which you are a member of DA), voting address in the US (or at the very least, the state in which you vote), and if you are returning it by email, your email address.  You must also sign and date your ballot for it to be valid.

WHY DO YOU NEED SO MUCH INFORMATION?  ISN’T IT MEANT TO BE SECRET?

This is a partisan election for a political party, not a federal election.   By signing your ballot, you are attesting that you are a properly qualified party member in good standing, and that you haven’t voted in any other Primary election.   And if the results are challenged and we are called upon to provide proof of the validity of a ballot, your signed attestation will be that proof.  We will note only that you voted, as is the case at any voting station in any election. 

When will the results of the Global Presidential Primary be announced?

Results for both Australia and for the entire Democrats Abroad will be announced 21 March.

I want to vote in a Republicans Abroad Primary.  Can you help me out?

No.  The GOP does not have a primary for its members abroad.  The Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary is the easiest and simplest opportunity for Americans living abroad to participate in the nominating process of either party.  Besides, at this point, wouldn’t you really rather be a Democrat?  Join us at www.democratsabroad.org/join

The specific question I have hasn’t been answered on this FAQ.  What do I do?

Write to [email protected] with your question and Democrats Abroad will get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.