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.
Our congratulations to the DA 2020 Delegation to the Democratic National Convention!
Julia Bryan, Czech Republic
Current DNC Members (Automatic delegates)
Julia Bryan, Global Chair
Alex Montgomery, Global Vice Chair
Connie Borde, EMEA
Ken Sherman, Americas
John Eastwood, Asia Pacific
Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Global
Orlando E. Vidal, Global
Adrianne George, Global
Lissette Wright, Canada (Bernie Sanders)
Tim Ellis, Canada (Bernie Sanders)
Miguel Madrigal, Costa Rica (Joe Biden)
John Baumlin, Japan (Bernie Sanders)
Anne Dlugosz, France (Bernie Sanders)
Diego Rivas, Germany (Bernie Sanders)
Farid Ben Amor, Switzerland (Bernie Sanders)
Juan Cerda, Austria (Joe Biden)
Marisa Grimes, Rwanda (Joe Biden)
Onelica Andrade, Belgium (Joe Biden)
Helen Li, China (Bernie Sanders)
Tyler Cofield, Germany (Bernie Sanders)
Anya Leonhard, Germany (Bernie Sanders)
David Wenk, UK (Bernie Sanders)
Maria Allgaier, UK (Joe Biden)
Standing Committee Members
Credentials – Claire Lops, Germany (Bernie Sanders)
Platform – Travis Mooney, UK (Bernie Sanders)
Rules – Joe Smallhoover, France (Joe Biden)
Samantha Wong, China
On the second day of the convention, Democrats Abroad electors debated and then adopted the 2020 Democrats Abroad Platform. Our broad-sweeping, progressive new platform reflects what we believe and why, distilled through a process of over 7500 inputs from plank polls and kitchen table talks. Thanks to the exhaustive and dedicated work of DA’s Platform Committee these last nine months, we are proud to deliver our new platform to the Democratic Party and are confident it reflects our unique perspective and priorities.
After adjournment of the Global Convention, we proceeded with the Annual Meeting where officer reports and global committee and caucus reports were submitted. In honor of Black Lives Matter, friends of our Global Black Caucus treated us to a rendition of Langston Hughes’ poem, "Let America be America Again." We had the honor of sharing a discussion with special guests, Ambassador Bruce and Vicki Heyman, about reaching Americans abroads in this pivotal election year.
Three important resolutions were passed during the latter hours of the meeting:
1.Reconoce y Celebra el Récord de Diversidad entre Candidatos Demócratas Presidenciales de 2020 (the first resolution in Spanish for our organization)
2. the Memorial Resolution for Steve Medeiros (DA Greece leader and great friend who recently passed away), and
3. the resolution to establish a Standing Diversity and Inclusion Action Committee.
Finally, the 2020 Annual Meeting adjourned after the location of the 2021 meeting was designated by vote for Washington D.C.
Biden and Bernie delegates and DNC members selected
Day 1 of the Convention was exciting and productive. DPCA members and voting representatives convened virtually from all over the world to elect the remaining delegates that Democrats Abroad will be ‘sending’ to the Democratic Convention in August plus the permanent DNC members who will serve from 2020-2024.
We’re delighted to announce the following election results:
PLEO Delegate (Sanders) - Lisette Wright
At-Large Delegate (Sanders) 1 - Helen Li
At-Large Delegate (Sanders) 2 - Tyler Cofield
At-Large Delegate (Sanders) 3 - Anya Leonhard
Alternative Delegate (Sanders)- David Wenk
Alternative Delegate (Biden) - Maria Allgaier
DNC Member 1 - Adrianne George
DNC Member 2 - Joe Smallhoover https://www.democratsabroad.org/1368/joseph_smallhoover_dnc_candidate_emea_and_global?recruiter_id=1368
DNC Member 3 - Martha McDeVitt - Pugh
Much more scheduled for day 2, so stay tuned...