Delegates Abroad Cast their Votes for the Democratic Presidential Candidate and Prepare for the Convention
- Americans abroad are gearing up for the Democratic National Convention next week.
- Delegates from Democrats Abroad are in the process of voting on their ballots for the Democratic Presidential candidate, the 2020 Democratic Platform, and Rules amendments.
- Democrats Abroad’s 24 representatives are attending from all over the world - from Kathmandu to Kigali.
- Democrats Abroad to host two special events, first with Ambassadors for Biden then with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Across the US, state parties and delegates are gearing up to participate in this year’s Democratic National Convention online and at home. Delegates from Democrats Abroad are also joining in - rallying together on zoom calls and downloading their ballots as they prepare to attend the Democratic Party’s first ever online convention in locations that stretch from Kathmandu to Kigali.
The Democratic party includes the 50 states, DC, the territories - and Democrats Abroad - a unique state party that represents the 9 million Americans who live outside the United States. Democrats Abroad will be represented at the convention by 24 representatives logging on from all over the world.
This year’s “Convention Across America” will be held online from August 17th to August 20th. Although the main events will fall within the week of the convention, delegates have already started casting their votes for their presidential candidate, as well as for the 2020 Democratic Platform, and for Rules amendments.
Typically a massive, week-long event with tens of thousands of Democrats in attendance, the covid crisis has made this year’s convention radically different, creating an opportunity for unprecedented public engagement. This year’s convention will feature online caucus and council meetings, and a two hour program of speeches and celebration each night (Central Time). While most formal work will be finalized before the convention begins, the online caucus meetings are expected to include interactive opportunities for conversation and debate. More information about participating in these meetings here: https://www.demconvention.com/
Julia Bryan, the Global Chair of Democrats Abroad and DA Delegation Chair notes, “I’m proud to lead our delegation this year as we come together with our fellow state parties to nominate our Democratic Presidential candidate. I’m also proud to be part of a party that has responded so mindfully to the pandemic and created an event that is both safe and extremely interactive for our delegates.
The National Convention is a significant moment as we reach out to Americans abroad around the world and make sure they know that they too can vote from abroad, and help Democrats back home win. (Go to votefromabroad.org to get started!).”
The DNC is the official nominating convention for the Democratic Party. It is an essential step in the presidential election process where the party unites to formally nominate its candidate for president, vote in the platform to guide the party for the next four years, as well as any amendments to the Party’s rules. This year’s voting is done online over a two week period from August 3 to August 15, and is carried out by each of the delegates from the 57 state parties that make up the DNC, including Democrats Abroad.Read more
Democrats Abroad is delighted by the news of the nomination of Senator Kamala Harris to be Vice President Joe Biden's running mate this year.
I'm ecstatic that VP Joe Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. The senator is a competent and intelligent woman, and I have no doubt she could take over as President at any time if needed. Together, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights ahead, and we will be there to support them in their efforts.
Angela Fobbs, Chair of the Global Black Caucus
As the first AAPI and Black woman to be on a major party’s presidential ticket, Senator Kamala Harris has proven to be a competent and strong leader. We can trust she will be able to carry out the responsibilities of the office of Vice President already starting on her first day in office. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the leaders America needs right now to get back on track!
Emily Lines & Cory Lemke, Co-chairs of the Global Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus
Senator Kamala Harris is an experienced, pragmatic leader who’s uniquely feminine combination of toughness and empathy is exactly what our country so desperately needs today. Women have often been the ones to step forward in critical times to take on the greatest challenges. I am confident that Kamala is the right woman to face these challenges alongside Joe Biden to defend the rights of all Americans and finally heal our ravaged nation.
Ann Hesse, Chair of the Global Women's Caucus
The summer is heating up and our August comms is too!
Listen in on interviews from our Blue Vote Cafe podcast team of Rachel Eugster and David Shellenberg as they talk with a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge, the leaders of Ambassadors for Biden, and a voter mobilization leader and advocate!
Insights into Joe Biden from former U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman
Learn about the importance of every vote, of hustling hard to preserve what we love, of what supporters of other candidates can look for from a Biden presidency, and of flipping Me to We.
Interview with Nse Ufot from The New Georgia Project
Nse Ufot joined our podcasters to talk about her work as Executive Director of The New Georgia Project (a non-partisan effort to register and civically engage Georgians), and how it had its roots in a conversation that began in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. We talk about voter suppression, Georgia's place in a rapidly transforming population, the critical importance of every vote in every election, the gospel choir theory of organizing, and Nse's time as a member of Democrats Abroad. With a side of ice cream and a lot of laughter.
Apple #Podcasts: https://buff.ly/2ZXRfNi
Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8xMWJmZjk2Yy9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw
Statement from Julia Bryan, Chair of Democrats Abroad
Our hearts are heavy with sorrow today. John Lewis inspired so many of us in Democrats Abroad through his actions, his words and his welcome. We hold tight to his reminders about the importance of getting up to a little good trouble, and above all remembering that the "right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy." We will carry that reminder with us for the rest of our lives, working to share it as far and wide as we can.
Thank you so much for your courage, and for your life long fight for the cause of justice. Rest in peace, rest in power.
This week, members of Democrats Abroad located around the world were joined in a zoom call by former UN Ambassador Samantha Power to discuss the 2020 election. This call with a high-profile former Obama administration official represents an increasing recognition of the importance in American elections of Democrats living outside the United States. Recent events, said the Ambassador, particularly President Trump’s efforts to delegitimize absentee voting, “underscore the urgency...of the efforts you all are making to organize and take nothing for granted.”
Though the conversation covered a number of important elements of American politics and the upcoming election, the Ambassador focused in particular on the damage done by the Trump administration to international stability and America’s standing in the world:
“The underlying damage, which really affects the US’s ability to get what it wants within the international system is the attack on the kind of countries in which many of you are living, it’s the attack on alliances… it’s the absence of constancy, the absence of faithfulness. You could disagree vehemently with George Bush, but weren’t worried that the Bush administration, for the sake of showing their difference from a prior administration, were going to almost nihilistically rip up everything.”
For Democrats Abroad, the presence of Ambassador Power on the call demonstrates the increasing understanding among Democratic officials of the voter impact and unique set of issues confronting Democrats living outside the United States. “We're delighted to have had the chance to speak with Ambassador Power,” said Julia Bryan, Chair of Democrats Abroad, "both for her clear insight into where the U.S. stands on worldwide issues that impact our members and for what her presence represents in terms of the growing acknowledgment of the millions of American voters who live outside the country.”
Former US Ambassadors Partner with Democrats Abroad to Get Out the Vote from Abroad in 2020
Innovative voter mobilization effort is geared to reach ~6.5 mil eligible Americans voters living abroad.
Washington, D.C., July 15, 2020: In an unprecedented outreach to American voters abroad, Ambassador Bruce Heyman, representing Ambassadors for Biden, announced the "American Voters Abroad" program on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today. The program is a first of its kind in support of a US presidential campaign, and is designed to get out the vote to the estimated 6.5 million eligible Americans living outside the US.
Run by the Ambassadors for Biden coalition and Democrats Abroad, the official Democratic State Party representing Democratic Americans living outside the United States, the project couples the reach and influence of former US Ambassadors with the voter tools, digital outreach, and voting expertise of Democrats Abroad to help Americans living outside the United States know that they can vote, explain how to vote, and above all remind them that their vote counts. Americans abroad are encouraged to use an online tool designed specifically for them, www.votefromabroad.org, to register and request their overseas absentee ballots from their home state.
Ambassadors for Biden are a group of over 200 diplomats who served abroad, and who are committed to leveraging their knowledge of American organizations abroad and their extensive social networks to help deliver the overseas vote back home. Their voter outreach abroad project is spearheaded by Ambassador Bruce Heyman, US Ambassador to Canada from 2014-17, and his spouse, Vicki Heyman.
Julia Bryan, Chair of Democrats Abroad, notes, “We are honored to be working with an incredible team of former Ambassadors, led by the Heymans. US Ambassadors and their partners are both influencers and outreach giants in their former host countries. By engaging with Americans abroad, they will make a true impact in helping more Americans vote.”
Approximately 6.5 million voting-age Americans live abroad, and are eligible to vote where they last resided before moving abroad. In 2016, less than a million successfully returned their ballots. The goal of this initiative is to take advantage of this opportunity and double if not triple that figure in 2020.
Voters abroad have proven to be the margin of victory in several high-profile U.S. elections over the last four years, thanks in part to the voter mobilization efforts of Democrats Abroad. The team plans to ensure those wins continue and expand in number in 2020, helping Joe Biden win the White House and Democrats take control of the Senate.
Ambassador Heyman states, “Electing VP Joe Biden to President, and Democrats across the ballot are our top priorities, and it’s telling that so many of my fellow former US Ambassadors agree. We need to restore America to its leadership position in world affairs and ensure it is taking the right approach on topics like the climate crisis, health care, education, and the economy. I am pleased to be working on voter outreach to the ~1 million Americans living in Canada, where I served, and to be working with my esteemed colleagues in Democrats Abroad on global get out the vote efforts. As Democrats Abroad says, When Americans abroad vote, Democrats back home win. Together, we are going to win.“
From now until election day, Ambassadors for Biden and Democrats Abroad will work together to return votes from abroad, with special interest in swing states including Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “Americans abroad have an incredible amount of clout through their vote,” said DA Chair Bryan, “and all they have to do is engage in the process to make change.” Added Ambassador Heyman: “Votefromabroad.org will be a game changer in this 2020 election, and we want to make sure that all Americans abroad know about it and how to use it.”
Democrats Abroad is the official organization of the Democratic Party for United States citizens living permanently or temporarily abroad. The organization is given state-level recognition by the Democratic National Committee, with eight positions on the Democratic National Committee, and sends a voting delegation to the Democratic National Convention to help select the Democratic presidential candidate every four years. For more information, visit https://www.democratsabroad.org.
This Fourth of July, we worry for our friends and family in the United States, we mourn for our home, and we fight for it too. We join with our allies calling for justice and the end of violence against people of color, and we stand together with our fellow Americans fighting for their rights and their lives.
The US has, perhaps, never felt so far from us as it does today, but as Dustin Lance Black so eloquently said to us this week: "We have an incredible amount of power to make a change...by voting from abroad. And if you want to go home, and feel like the US is home again, you need to reach out to ten people and tell them from your heart why you want home to feel like home again, for you and for those people who have never felt it is home."
Voting is the most powerful political tool that we have to make a difference in the United States - no matter where we are around the world, and no matter what state we vote in.
We must, each and every one of us, ensure that we can vote this year, and that every American abroad we know can too. This is the commitment I ask of you today, July 4th, as we prepare for the most important presidential election of our lifetime.
Please, go to votefromabroad.org now and make sure you are ready to vote this fall. Then reach out to your friends and family, wish them a happy 4th and ask that they too help ensure that every American can feel at home in the United States. For more information on how to make that ask, and more information on voting from abroad join the Vote from Abroad Voting Champion program.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration cannot move forward with its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Established by President Obama in 2012, DACA protects about 700,000 young Dreamers from deportation who were brought into the U.S. as children. DACA allows them to obtain an education, live, and work in the U.S. The program lasts only two years at a time and is subject to be renewable. The program provides no pathway to citizenship.
Julia Bryan, Chair of Democrats Abroad and Amerika Garcia Grewal, Chair of the Hispanic Caucus Steering Committee, issued a joint statement on this decision: "This is a major relief for the thousands of Dreamers and their families whose lives have been left in limbo and in living in fear of deportation by the Trump administration. While we celebrate this victory, the Supreme Court's ruling is provisional, and there is no pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Congress must hold the Trump Administration accountable and fix the broken U.S. immigration system. Congress must pass the Dream Act and provide comprehensive immigration reform."
From a Dreamer now living in Germany: "After the cruel uncertainty that DREAMers have had to live in for the past two years, this is a very welcome turn of events. As a DREAMer living abroad, I understand what it is like to have your safety, livelihood, and ambitions be so abruptly placed on a halt. I applaud the decision the Supreme Court has made, but overall I applaud the work that activists have done for this cause. DREAMers and their allies have shown bravery under threat of deportation, endless strength even from within detention centers, and an extraordinary ability to never lose hope. Today, my husband is a U.S. citizen, and I will celebrate a decision that will allow thousands of amazing individuals to continue fighting for their dreams in the country they call home. Congratulations, DREAMers!"
LGBTQ+ rights are now recognized as civil rights in the USA. Nearly 56 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, the US Supreme Court has ruled that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are federally protected from discrimination in the workplace. We can no longer be fired from our jobs or not hired simply because of who we are and who we love.
Julia Bryan, Chair of Democrats Abroad noted, "Let's celebrate a victory in the courts, and then continue the work to create a more just society where every individual is honored and respected. A world that works for everyone, with no one and nothing left out. Today would be a very good day to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and ask the people in your life to vote."
Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Co-Chair of the Democrats Abroad LGBT+ Caucus, also noted, "Until today, it was perfectly legal to not hire or to fire someone from their job in many US states, simply because they are LGBT. Any protections were only at the local or state level, meaning that moving across a state border could mean you lose access to fundamental civil rights.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Recent events in the US show that were are only free and equal to live our lives when government and institutions respect and protect the rights and dignity of all people at all levels.
Protection under the law is the start. It is not the end of the road."
Americans abroad can once again use their embassies to send ballots and voting material back to the US, thanks to Senator Tim Kaine and a Democrats Abroad webinar call.
On May 8th, Democrats Abroad was honored to speak with Senator Tim Kaine on a zoom call. During the course of the call, one of our members from Kazakhstan noted that they were no longer able to use their consulate to send in their ballot. We asked the Senator about this issue, and he immediately suggested that we should work on a remedy together. We got in touch immediately and are delighted to share the following message from Senator Kaine with all DA members worldwide:
We’re happy to report back that after some persistent engagement over the last few weeks, the State Department has agreed to revise its guidelines and will now provide voting assistance services during Phase I of its reopening plan. It is our understanding that most State facilities are shifting into Phase I within the week.
Under State’s “Diplomacy Strong” reopening plan, Phase 0 (pandemic-driven skeleton staffing) permitted only life-or-death services and emergency repatriations. Phase I permits resumption of contact-free mission critical services and partial re-staffing. Voting assistance was previously categorized as a non-essential service for Phase II, which some locations may not move to for several weeks or even months. However, as we pointed out, the ability to vote certainly meets the definition of mission critical in an election year, and the standard use of secure ballot collection boxes does not require any face-to-face contact.
State advised all embassies and consulates of this change on June 4. At our further recommendation, State also directed embassies and consulates to message out their current ballot acceptance policies to all U.S. citizens in their districts, and to continuously provide updates if their local policy changes.
There may still be some locations where voting assistance services will not be possible in the short term due to external issues (such as local movement restrictions limiting access to the embassy, or airport closures preventing international diplomatic pouch shipments). However, at minimum Americans at those locations will now know in advance if they need to make alternate arrangements.
Thank you again for flagging this for us, and please do keep us posted if you hear anything further from Democrats Abroad’s members.
Democrats Abroad would like to send a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Senator Kaine for his assistance on this important issue. The voting process is a sacred right for all American citizens, no matter which country they call home. Our members are grateful that our voices and concerns will be heard and that they will be addressed as befitting our status as citizens of the United States of America.