While it sometimes feels, as the proverb goes, that heaven is high and the President is far away, Democrats Abroad is a vital part of the Democratic Party. We may be the only one of the 57 “state parties” spread across over 50 countries, but we still meet regularly annually.
This year’s Democrats Abroad country committee leadership global meeting took place in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., in May. Our focus: how local leaders can empower volunteers in preparation for 2020. Through our actions and learnings at the global meeting, DA China is better positioned than ever to fight Trump and the Republican agenda.
This was the third global meeting I attended in person to represent DA China. Sam Wong, our former Vice Chair, was also present in DC, and Elizabeth Jenkins, our current Vice Chair, attended (and voted) virtually.
As a volunteer on the Nominations and Elections Committee, and as Chair of the Bylaws Committee, the meetings felt especially productive this year. I want to share three personal highlights I feel are powerful strengths for our party heading into the 2020 election:
Medicare-for-All Resolution: Each year, DA considers and passes resolutions that stake out our position on key issues, ensuring that they are being communicated directly to DNC leadership. This year we passed a resolution advocating support for a Medicare-for-All plan and expressing a strong view of healthcare as a right for Americans, regardless of their bank account balance. I was proud to vote in support of this resolution, and healthcare is shaping up to be a focal point of Democratic election efforts around the country.
Communication Plans and Training: Amanda Mohar, the global communications lead, delivered a comprehensive overview of DA’s strategy from now through to the primary season and also conducted training on how to activate new volunteers and members. In addition, country committee leaders shared ideas on GOTV and voter registration efforts, with a special focus on reaching students and other overlooked groups. DA China, with support from some amazing volunteers, is working hard to identify opportunities to engage with more study abroad programs.
Democratis Galore: Democrats Abroad is front-of-mind as a key part of the primary and election process. We had the opportunity to host many Presidential hopefuls and other guest speakers to share their ideas on the future of the country. Senator Doug Jones spoke passionately about the importance of defending voter rights, including those of Americans living abroad, leaving a huge impression on all attendees. As you know, voting from overseas can be daunting and confusing. DA has formed global voting rights task forces to identify, track and challenge instances of overseas American voter disenfranchisement.
After the meeting a group of volunteers spent two days on the Hill door-knocking on issues that affect Americans overseas. One topic that resonated with many we met was HR1 and voting rights. HR1 currently includes language that refers to “paper ballots,” which may be used to exclude electronically returned ballots by Americans overseas.
In many parts of the world the postal service is simply not reliable enough for receiving and returning paper ballots. Fax or scanning is a much more optimal solution that does not increase risk of fraud. We found a receptive audience and generated interest for easier overseas voting in California, New York, and Iowa.
These next 18 months are going to be some of the most important in our country's history. We need your help!
Please get in touch to learn more about DA China's work - we are always looking for more volunteers, and we very much appreciate donations to help fuel our efforts. On behalf of the DA China Leadership Board, thank you.
Chair, DA China