Editorial / Voting as an Expatriate

Voting as an Expatriate

Voting as an Expatriate

1 September 2008 People & Interviews 14

While it is debatable whether the popular vote really counts anymore in the United States, we would hate to find out it did in such an important election, and not have voted.

Many of you who read this website are Americans. And many of you are living outside of the United States. But you can still vote! Here's everything you need to know to do so.

First of all, where will your vote count? It will count in the last state you resided before moving here (if you have no property in the United States) or in the state where you have an official residence. Because the United States votes through delegates, and the actual popular vote count does NOT determine the next president of the country, where your vote counts, counts!


How do you vote? You must vote using an Absentee Ballot. And this website seems to be the easiest way to get one that we've found yet:


This website is sponsored by Democrats Abroad, and it will take you through five easy steps

to register to vote in the United States, regardless of your party affiliation (Democrat, Republican, Independent... ni modo). The process gives you the option of having the form emailed to you, faxed to you or printed out on your computer. Once it is signed, you need to then mail it back to the appropriate office (they will provide you with the address). And you will get your Absentee Ballot soon thereafter (one would assume). The last screen also gives you the option to join Democrats Abroad (not required) and to click whether you are out of the country Temporarily or Indefinitely. It cautions you that if you click "Temporarily", you will be sent state voting information but you will also be liable for income tax in that state.

In case you want a less partisan website, here is the government's site for people voting from overseas:


Some Pros and Cons

So is there a benefit to being an expat in the voting process? Or is it a problem? A London expat put this list together, which we think says it all:

The great thing about being an expat voter is:

  1. I never have to stand in line. My ballot comes to my house - I fill it in and send it back
  2. I definitely have to vote early - which means that there won't be anything which prevents me from voting on election day.
  3. I have plenty of time to mull over my paper ballot in the privacy of my own home.
  4. There's a paper record of my vote!!!

What's not so good about being an expat voter:

  1. You have to pay to post your vote. OR you can take it to the consulate and they will mail it for you... if you trust them to do that.
  2. There's no excitement in the run-up to election day.
  3. Based on the last two elections, despite the fact that there's an actual paper record of my vote, election officials are unlikely to actually tally my ballot.

What? Not a US Citizen?

Perhaps you are reading this and you aren't a US Citizen (though why you would have read this far is a mystery to us, but we digress...). You can still make your voice heard through this Vote For President website, where all the world gets to vote. You can see how different countries vote, which is rather interesting. In case you're wondering, at this writing, 89% of Mexicans who voted on this website voted for Barack Obama.

Speaking of Barack Obama

We thought it was interesting that Democrats held a primary for Democrats Abroad and sent 22 delegates with half a vote each to the recent Democratic National Convention in Denver. That means that the Democrats Abroad organization had more say in the nomination of a candidate than, say, Guam. As well we should, because estimates are that there are six to nine million passport-carrying Americans living outside of US borders. (To find out more about the Democrats Abroad delegation to the Democractic National Convention, read this press release.) It is estimated that expats in Mexico make up 3 million of those passport-carrying Americans outside the bbrders of the US, so there is a lot of work to be done, getting all those Americans registered to vote. We spoke today with Nicholas Moreno, the Mexican regional director for Americans Abroad for Obama. He is looking for people to help here in Merida. We're going to do everything we can to help, but as you know, we are the *Working* Gringos. We are wondering if maybe some of the *Retired* Gringos might not have more time for some of these activities. If you want to help (and by help, we mean registration drives, hosting parties to watch the debates, that sort of thing), please contact Nicholas:

We're looking forward to those debate parties, by the way. It's probably a lot more fun to watch them in a crowd. The Presidential debates are currently scheduled for September 26, October 7 and October 12. There will be a Vice Presidential debate on October 2.

Just Vote

We recently received an email telling the story of a group of women suffragettes who staged a protest in front of the White House, demanding the vote, and who suffered greatly in their battle to obtain the right to vote for women in the United States. And certainly, Barack Obama's presence on the stage at the Democratic Convention reminded us of the battles that raged obtain equal rights for African Americans. We worry about the vote counting process, the voting machines, voting fraud, and much more... and we realize we are not alone. but we still think it is important to vote. If everyone does it, well... maybe there will be change we can believe in.


  • Ellen Fields 11 years ago

    Hola, Mexicano...

    You're right... in this article, I mentioned Democrats more. And I give the details of how to reach the Democratic representative in Mexico, because he called me and gave me that information. I have had no such contact from the Republicans Abroad (here's their website: Republicans Abroad). And no, it's not a mystery who I am supporting for President this November.

    I'm concerned about "voter rigging"... how could I not be, given the last two Presidential elections? I work in technology... I've read a lot about the voting machines and I know they are not secure. You can read about it here and here and many other places. So yes, I'm concerned.

    There are problems with both sides... I'll be the first to tell you that I am wary of all political figures, and am of the philosophy that in order to get to that level in politics, a person usually has to sell their soul. But given the choice, I feel Obama will be a better leader and will lead the country (and the world) in a saner direction. He also has a better chance of being in good health throughout his term and having the fortitude to work as hard as Presidents should work.

    Because, you see, as a world citizen, I am more concerned about the state of the world and the health of the planet than the happiness of Americans. I feel that the candidate I support has a better chance of achieving world peace through diplomatic negotiations with other countries. I know that John McCain thinks he can win the war in Iraq and more wars like it, but I don't want more war. I don't want my tax dollars paying for war. I think my candidate is more likely to slow down the rush to drill in Alaska and might actually appoint someone to positions of power that actually cares about wildlife, forests, oceans... and realizes they aren't infinite.

    In voting for Barack Obama, I am trying to make the best possible choice, with the realization that nobody (and nothing in this world) is perfect. I'm hoping and praying for our planet's sake that most Americans see it somewhat the same way that I do.

    All that said, I certainly respect yours (and all our other readers') opinions and decisions, even if they don't agree with me. What I don't respect (and won't approve as a comment) is any mudslinging or name calling.

  • mexicano 11 years ago

    Hmmm ... A quick word check shows no mention whatsoever of McCain but three for Obama (two in a positive light). Similarly there´s only one mention of the Republican party (given parity with Independents) and no less than 10 mentions of the Democrats. You also give details of how to contact the Democratic representative, but none for the Republican equivalent. Then there´s the (risible) photo of the swooning congregation at an Obama rally .... No mystery who you´ll be supporting in November, then, Mexican visa requirements notwithstanding.

    Given your apparent concerns about voter rigging it´s a little ironic that you´re giving wholehearted support to the latest product of the Democratic Party´s notorious Chicago political machine ... or maybe you´d prefer to forget their previous involvement in such things, along with Obama´s direct and well-documented links with terrorists and fraudsters.

    No, ´ironic´ is not the word I´m looking for,´hypocritical´ is.

  • Susan 11 years ago

    Good reminder. I got my form in June, hoping to get this taken care of early. Now I remember that I filled out all the forms and sent them in, and I have heard nothing back as of 2 or 3 months later....just thinking, for those who haven't registered as absentee yet, the time is now....it can take a long time and a bunch of back and forth, just sayin.

  • Ellyne 11 years ago

    Bravo and good reminder that we have an obligation to choose to vote!
    Thanks for the additional website as well.

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