I bet you didn't know that there are 6,320,000 U.S. civilians living abroad. Of which 205,118 are military personnel deployed overseas, and 270,604 are Study abroad students. (That's a lot of study abroad students. More on that later.)
If overseas Americans were a state, we would be the 18th largest in the nation. (Sorry, Missouri!)
That also means that our votes, and our voices as Americans living abroad, count. And our votes are more important than ever with races being determined by razor thin margins that seem to get smaller and more nail bitingly close with every election cycle.
That's why Democrats Abroad has just launched its optimized global Get Out the Vote voter registration tool, www.VoteFromAbroad.Org, to make voter registration easier for the millions of US citizens who live abroad so they can request an absentee ballot, vote by mail, receive time sensitive voting information and help shape America's future. For maximum impact in 2012, www.VoteFromAbroad.Org is now compatible with mobile and tablet devices so that we can help register Americans wherever and whenever we find them abroad.
www.VoteFromAbroad.Org, launched in 2006, already has a strong (largely unknown) track record making the difference in razor thin races. Look at these electoral contests (where the margin of victory was smaller than the number of overseas ballots requested from www.VoteFromAbroad.Org):
• Senator Jon Tester (Montana, 2006): 3,562 votes
• Senator Jim Webb (Virginia, 2006): 9,329 votes
• Rep. Patrick Murphy (Pennsylvania 8th, 2006): 1,518 votes
• Rep. Tom Perriello (Virginia 5th, 2008): 745 votes
• Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio 15th, 2008): 2,311 votes
• Senator Mark Begich (Alaska, 2008): 3,724 votes
• Senator Al Franken (Minnesota, 2008): 312 votes
Who would have thought that Democrats Abroad, with the most overseas voters from California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio, would be able to supply the votes to swing races in Montana, Minnesota and Alaska!
These facts give us all the more reason to scour the globe to find US voters all the way from the Antarctica to Zambia.
Students, help us by posting this video on your Facebook page, tumblr and blogs and get the word to your 270,604 study abroad colleagues. Everyone else tell all the Americans abroad you know!
As Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said recently in a message to Democrats Abroad, "You may not realize this but your votes from abroad are making the difference in more and more elections across the country. For example, look at the razor thin victory of Senator Al Franken, (312 votes), who won by a margin smaller than the number of overseas ballots received. So please don't think just because you are far away you are forgotten, or that your voices or your votes don't matter in our elections. They do. And they may very well provide the margin of victory in November. Please get involved and help spread the word about www.VoteFromAbroad.org today."
Still not convinced?
Top 5 (bad) reasons not to vote:
1. "I don't have a U.S. address anymore."
You don't need one. Your legal voting address is the last place you resided before leaving the country.
2. "They don't even count overseas ballots."
Utterly untrue. Every properly executed absentee ballot is included in the final certified count. It's the law.
3. "My vote won't make a difference."
Oh yes it can! (See animation.)
4. "I'm afraid of the I.R.S."
Don't be. Voting in federal elections does not affect the determination of tax liability or tax residence. You won't get a call from the IRS just because you voted in a federal election.
5. "I don't need to register. I did it last time."
Wrong! The law changed recently. You need to request a new ballot every election year.
Follow Caitlin Kraft Buchman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CaitKraft