As the Midterm elections draw near in the United States, so much rests on whether the Democrats can take control of the House of Representatives. By claiming Congress, the atrocious policies of the current Republican administration can be stopped in their tracks.
Though this looks favourable, Democrats Abroad Australia is leaving nothing to chance and doing everything we can to Get Out the Vote from Down Under.
Absentee ballots from overseas have been critical in determining close, contested races in the past. The last presidential election was decided by just thousands of votes. Seventeen congressional seats were decided by margins of 5% or less. Close races indeed hinge on absentee overseas ballots.
National Chair Kent Getsinger states: “We are at a critical time both for our country and the Democratic Party. Not only have we seen immense resistance to Trump and his administration but have seen movements that are truly transforming our country for the better. Women’s March, March For Our Lives, statewide campaigns for medicare for all and economic justice. There are people who are bringing hope to the US and making a difference for the better and we are making a difference from overseas with our votes.”
Throughout 2018, Democrats Abroad Australia has mobilised voters to ensure that all absentee ballots are sent in.
Volunteers in major capital cities have spent many hours handing out voting information in popular, public places and tourist locales. DA Australia members have committed to ensuring that US Citizens and Australians who may know US Citizens have all the information that they need to vote.
“The NSW Chapter of DAA has been working hard to GOTV for the 2018 midterm elections. From calling voters via the CallHub tool and engaging possible voters at public spaces like train stations, the Chapter is blessed with engaged and committed members to GOTV. We know that wishing and hoping are not strategies so we are in action. Vote. It Matters.” states Marla Minow, Chair of NSW Chapter.
Democrats Abroad Australia also holds public events including other voter registration events and invites the public to comes discuss issues facing America. Event’s like QLD’s Beer and a Barbeque and VIC’s Politics and a Pint are some of many examples where members and volunteers gather publically to help voters get registered and raise awareness of issues in the US.
“Members are outraged at what is going on” writes Volunteer Coordinator Layne Mostyn of QLD Chapter. “We just had a huge turnout on in Brisbane for our voter registration event and although people were clearly angry about the recent Kavanaugh confirmation, the event was overwhelmingly positive and full of community spirit. My biggest takeaway from the event is that we can build our communities to be strong again, but we all need to show up and engage.”
Thomas Lopez, Chair of VIC Chapter states: “Here in Victoria, we are passionate and dedicated to changing our home, the United States, for the better. We have come together and held many meetings to coordinate our efforts and help get out the vote. Our Politics and a Pint series was designed to get out our message to other like-minded Americans living in Australia. We are keeping up our efforts to push through to Election day and ride this Blue Wave into November.”
Each new academic year brings new study abroad and exchange students from the US who may be voting for the first time. Volunteers have visited campuses all across Australia to educate and empower students about how to vote! DA Australia had attended orientation events and held social gatherings nearby campuses for new students.
An immense challenge for the United States is making sure as many people vote as possible. As the United States does not have mandatory voting attendance and the Democratic effort is largely to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Volunteers have been contacting DA Australia’s entire membership to make sure that they have all the info to vote. All our membership has been contacted through a phone call or SMS to make sure that they know about the absentee ballot request form VoteFromAbroad!
“I am convinced that the single most useful thing I can do for the 2018 elections is to help get out the expat vote” says John Driggers, DA Australia Volunteer from SA Chapter
Democrats Abroad Australia also has an objective to reach the nearly 100,000 US Citizens living Down Under so that they know about their right to vote from overseas. We have used social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat - sharing the information about how any US citizen can use the VoteFromAbroad website to request their ballot.
National Social Media Coordinator Shanna Nurkin writes: "Paid media allows us to reach this audience (including US expats over 18) and ensure that we get in touch with the people online. We’ll always reach out using print, face-to-face and phonebanking but digital media allows us a cost-efficient solution to Get Out The Vote!”
National Chair Kent Getsinger concludes: “People are motivated, we are motivated. Not just in opposition to the current administration, we are all waking up to the real issues that perpetuate politics of division. Embedded sexism and racism, lack of a living wage, staggering healthcare costs, insecure work and many more difficulties have faced Americans for some time. Despite the awful news we are barraged with from the US, there is indeed a new, revived direction of politics and a real, hopeful vision for the future of the United States. It is an honour for all of us to contribute to that from overseas.”
Democrats Abroad Australia (Democratic Party Caucus Abroad, DPCA) is the official overseas wing of the Democratic Party for American citizens living outside the US and its territories.