But each country's and even state's policy is different and that doesn't make it easy to track it all. For example in the U.K. as the #Brexit referendum looms near, there are thousands, if not millions, of British expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years and therefore currently don't have the right to vote on a policy matter that really affects them, namely, whether to continue as a part of the E.U.
Fortunately, as Americans living abroad, our citizenship guarantees us the right to vote for our entire adulthood, regardless of residency. But while all citizens still (or should) hold an avid interest in the politics and policies of their home nations, my fellow Americans have a somewhat larger financial stake of still having to file taxes every year, on top of our local taxation.
That means, no matter where we live outside the U.S., we share in unique challenges and experiences that bind us together. As immigration policy evolves and borders seem to be closing, this becomes more apparent than ever. Another thing, now that marriage is eligible to all Americans, we should be advocating on behalf of a national civil registry which will take away the burden of proving our status in other nations. And, of course, since we are paying income tax, we should simply have a say in how it is spent. But we kind of do, but just most of us don't take advantage of it.
As Americans living abroad, we have an opportunity to vote with a united voice.
Well, at least if you're a Democrat. Since the 1980s, Democrats living abroad have had the ability to vote as an expat bloc. Just like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, we have a united demographic and voice in the primaries, similar to a state without being an actual state.
Now, even if we are an early 'state,' that doesn't mean that they are paying attention to us...yet. Back in university, I led the effort to get thousands of residential students to register to vote via the campus address. Adding a few thousand young fresh voters into the official population of a town of only about 55,000 meant that my fellow students and our student government actually had a voice in local government.
There are about 8.7 million Americans living abroad.
Not only do we have a much larger potential voter base, we're an early state, so we deserve the same attention from both press and parties.
Now if you're in a January or February primary or caucus state, well, I can only appeal to your sense of united expat pride to persuade you to vote in our primary bloc, but, if you're like me from a state that is perceived to have very little influence on selecting the next president by not getting to vote until the Summer and you're a Democrat, well, I think you'd be crazy not to want to vote on or before March 8 in the Democrats Abroad primary, including joining 15 other states on Super Tuesday March 1!
If you are only doing a semester or two abroad, you do still probably have more of a stake in your home state--which by the way, you could still vote in for local elections even if you vote this once in the Democrats Abroad primary--but, if you don't live in an early state, the feeling of having a louder voice by voting as this 'early state' is certainly appealing.
Let me stress that one point again, this is just for the national elections, by joining Democrats Abroad, that doesn't preclude you from voting in your home state and local elections.
Who can vote as part of the Democrats Abroad Voting Bloc?
Are you eligible to vote in the Global Presidential Primary? To cast a ballot in the Global Presidential Primary, you must:
- be a citizen of the United States of America, turning 18 on or before November 8, 2016.
- reside permanently or temporarily outside the states and territories of the U.S.A.
- be a member of Democrats Abroad and subscribe to principles of the Democratic Party.
- have not voted (nor will vote) in any other 2016 presidential primary or caucus. (You may vote in your home state’s primaries for candidates for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and where permitted by your local election official, state and local elections and ballot measures.)
How do you vote in the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary?
- Join DemocratsAbroad.org (easy email, Twitter or Facebook login.)
- Vote in person locally between Super Tuesday March 1 and March 8. (More info below.)
- OR go ahead and Print Your Ballot and sign it. Scan-email, fax or snail-mail it in by March 8. (You can mail it to the HQ in Germany or other local addresses, more info here.)
Of course, for those of us that have been doing the anti-climactic vote-by-mail shuffle, the undeniably gratifying opportunity to actually vote in person has its allure. For my fellow guiris here in Spain, if you're in one of the two biggest cities, where and when are below. If you are a left-leaning expat in another city or country, Go Here to learn where you can go to the polls in your adoptive location or how how you can vote by mail as an expat bloc.
VOTE IN PERSON, BARCELONA
Tuesday, March 1 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm:
ESERP Business School, Carrer de Girona, 24, Barcelona 08010
Saturday March 5 10:00 am – 2:00 pm:
Dos Trece Restaurant, Carrer Carme, 40, Barcelona 08001
VOTE IN PERSON, MADRID
Tuesday, March 1 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm:
Tempo Club, Calle Duque Osuna, 8, Madrid 28015
Saturday March 5, Sunday 6, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm:
Casa de Soria (Restaurante Variopintos), Carrera de San Jerónimo, 5. 1º, Madrid 28014
Anything else you should do?
TELL EVERY AMERICAN LIVING ABROAD YOU KNOW.
This is crazy to me, I've always been a very active Democrat and was even a delegate back in '08 and have lived abroad for seven years now, and even I hadn't heard of this opportunity before. Neither has at least the U.S. Embassy in Spain, and, seemingly, by their lack of interest, have Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Let's spread the word so we can make an impact in the next few weeks, so that the next time elections roll around, candidates are campaigning to us, press has its eye externally, and we begin to have a voice in our great democracy.
And I don't think this should be a right to just Democrats, go ahead, tell your Republican and Independent expat pals too--then maybe they'll bug their own parties to make this a non-partisan right. It's in all of our collective best interest!
As part of this effort, I give anyone reading this full permission to copy what I have written and share it wherever. Want to add more like polling locations in your own adoptive country? Please comment below!
I am only a volunteer in this volunteer organization and speaking as myself. Want to volunteer over the next eight months to Get Out The Vote for Democrats living abroad? How about you join me as a Democrats Abroad volunteer! Don't have time for that? No worries, you can still feel more connected to our homeland by attending a local election event.
Now, what are you waiting for? We're Democrats after all, it's time to kick ass!
To register to vote in the upcoming General Election, to request your ballot, visit VotefromAbroad.org.