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Dems Abroad Superdelegate: Expats Are The Low Hanging Fruit Of New Voters

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For a man who might sway the presidential election, Toby Condliffe, 64, is pretty low-key. A retired broker who works from home, he answers the phone on the first ring (he likes punctuality); his voice is soft, his answers expansive. Until four years ago, he wasn't even involved in politics, except as a spectator. Now, as the Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad, Condliffe is a superdelegate who does not feel particularly compelled to follow his constituency's popular vote.

Fortunately for Condliffe, who endorsed Obama way back in November, his constituency overwhelmingly favors the senator from Illinois. In the 2008 Global Primary, a first-ever event in which Democrats living abroad voted as an overseas bloc rather than as absentee citizens in their home states, Obama won 65% of the popular vote and 3 out of 4.5 delegates. Obama's erstwhile hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia, which straddles the International Dateline, was the first polling location to open on Super Tuesday.

"I think Democrats Abroad has a huge opportunity to effect US politics and to effect elections," said Condliffe, who moved to Toronto 34 years ago with his Canadian wife. "There are millions of us out here. The vast majority don't vote or haven't voted, but with websites and email we can communicate in a way we couldn't before. In terms of finding new voters, the low hanging fruit abroad is far greater than in any state in the U.S."

Significantly, the 2008 Global Election allowed voters to cast their ballots online, rather than request mail-in ballots from their states or participate in a caucus with official country committees.

"Four years ago, there was participation in 30 or fewer countries," said Condliffe. "This year, we had votes come in from 164 countries, from Antarctica to Zambia."

Even without the force of the world literally behind him, it seems unlikely Condliffe will be swayed from his endorsement of Obama, whose youth and idealism he believes is attracting young people. "I don't think I'm going to change my vote because I think my candidate is going to win," he said. "If Hillary were leading, I'd be tempted to switch but I don't think that's going to happen.

This piece was produced as part of OffTheBus's Superdelegate Investigation. Click here to read more superdelegate profiles.