The Democrats Abroad's Global Presidential Primary, which kicked off on March 3 ("Super Tuesday"), will wrap up this coming Tuesday, as expat Democrats who live outside the U.S. turn out to support their candidate of choice to take on President Trump in November.
At this point, the field of candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee has shrunk to three: Joe Biden, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders.
In order to enable expat Democrats around the world to vote in the GPP, the Democrats Abroad has been overseeing hundreds of voting centers in dozens of countries around the world.
The Democrats Abroad is the official arm of the U.S. Democratic Party, and sends 21 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July, 13 of which are "pledged", delegates, meaning that they're obliged to vote for a specific candidate.
Democrats Abroad chair Julia Bryan says that the GPP primary helps to ensure that "every Democrat living outside the US has the same chance to participate, regardless of where they live".
According to the Democrats Abroad's website, all Americans who are resident outside the United States are eligible to participate in the primary and even to run for a convention delegate position, provided they are 18 or older by Nov. 3, 2020, are Democrats Abroad members, and have not voted in any other presidential primary or caucus in this election cycle.
Same-day registration is available for Americans who have not yet joined Democrats Abroad.
More information may be found on the GPP page of the Democrats Abroad's website, by clicking here.
In addition to being the last day for voting in the GPP in person, this Tuesday, March 10, is also the deadline for remote ballots to have been received. The GPP results are scheduled to be announced on March 23, with a Democrats Abroad Global Convention due to take place on May 16. The main Democratic National Convention will take place July 13 through 16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the full presidential election is set for Nov. 3.
In an update posted on Saturday, the Democrats Abroad said in-person voter turn-out during this year's primary was greater than had been the case in 2016, although "three in five voters have chosen to cast their ballots remotely", possibly because of Covid-19 concerns.
“So far, the virus has had a limited impact on our voting centers, but we are especially encouraging those who may be sick or more susceptible to look at their remote voting options," Democrats Abroad communications director Amanda Mohar said.
"Remote voting will be available for everyone, no matter what.”
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 select our presidential candidate. For more information, visit https://www.democratsabroad.org.
Although only around 7% of the roughly three million Americans living abroad who were eligible to vote actually cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election, according to Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) data, political observers often stress that overseas voters actually could make a difference in determining who will spend the four years beginning in 2021 in the White House. This is because the margins by which candidates win or lose key states can often be so narrow. "In 2000, both George W. Bush's ad Al Gore's campaigns hinged their victories on a small number of absentee ballots in Florida that were mailed from outside the U.S.," a recent article on the WashingtonMonthly.com website noted.
However, it noted that the lack of "reliable, authoritative data" on overseas voters made the work of mobilizing them difficult, so that even estimates as to the numbers of ballots actually cast by Americans resident abroad in 2016 vary hugely, between around 200,000 (FVAP) and 380,000 (Election Administration and Voting Survey).
The Republicans Overseas, meanwhile, has said that some 614,553 "uniformed and overseas citizens absentee voting ballots" were returned in 2016, of which 51,700 were from voters who were stationed abroad with a division of the U.S. military.
Biden, less clear
on issues, in lead
Following the Super Tuesday primaries, Biden was seen to be narrowly ahead of the more socialist-leaning Sanders. While certain of Sanders's policies have drawn concern from some in the expatriate American community for seeming potentially insensitive to certain major issues expats face, Biden has said almost nothing about such matters.
In an interview with the Democrats Abroad, which may be viewed here, for example, Sanders said, when asked about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), that he "absolutely" would commit to directing the U.S. Treasury Department to study, and then implement, new guidance that would provide relief to ordinary Americans living abroad who demonstrably were not evading taxes. Sanders told his Democrats Abroad interviewer that although he believes in progressive taxation, "I know, and I’ve heard from many Americans living abroad, that this is a serious problem".
As for the subject of a possible move to a residence-based tax regime from the U.S.'s current citizenship-based tax regime, which many experts say is the main reason that sanFATCA has had such a damaging effect on many expatriates around the world, Sanders said it was "something that I think we can take a hard look at, and implement" [a change to]".
Sanders is said to have a strong following among expat Americans, possibly helped by the fact that his older brother, Larry, has lived in the UK for decades and is an outspoken Sanders advocate and campaigner. In 2016, Sanders won 69% of the overseas Democrat vote, compared with 31% who voted for Clinton.
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