Global Primary: Expats Get Out and Vote!

05/25/2011 12:25 pm ET
  • Vivian Norris Ph.D. focusing on Globalization and Media Studies

Last time around, many thousands of Americans living abroad, or simply out of the country at that time, filed for and did NOT receive their absentee ballots for the U.S. presidential elections. I myself filed several months in advance, stating and signing that I would be out of the country, yet never received the ballot and ended up voting with an emergency ballot (on Election Day) at the U.S. embassy in London. This ballot only allows for federal level voting. In addition, many military overseas ballots were lost or not accounted for and there has never been a solid verification that indeed "all the votes are in" when it comes to votes arriving from abroad. It is extremely frustrating, not to mention potentially illegal, for those who have appropriately filed for absentee ballots to not receive them not have their votes counted.

This Super Tuesday is also the Global Primary for Democrats abroad and voting stations as well as events (keeping us awake until 2 a.m. or later) are planned around the world. Voters can look online for information in their area. Beyond simply voting, expats and others who happen to be abroad can meet others who care a great deal about our country. Sometimes it is precisely those who see the country from the outside who care the most as they understand what it means to be an American, as they are often forced to define themselves as one when living around non-Americans. We also can see how our country is perceived from abroad, and know that international relations matter more and more in this globalizing world.

Having lived within other systems, those with social security for all, more job security and better infrastructure, etc., one sees possible futures for the United States, as well as how sometimes those "foreign" systems go wrong and how they can be improved. We are also at times forced to act as unofficial "ambassadors" for the United States when an important U.S. election comes around. This presidential election is being watched by those abroad more attentively than ever before. Friends in France, Norway, the U.K.and elsewhere are actually watching our presidential debates and know who our candidates are. Do many Americans ever take the time to closely follow elections in other countries? Can we even name the foreign leaders?

We have a responsibility to both our own country and the rest of the world to pay attention to how our leadership affects the rest of the planet. So get out and vote in the primary, whether you are in Singapore or Buenos Aires, Oslo or Rome! Remember, you can't criticize if you don't participate!

Vivian Norris de Montaigu and her daughter will be in D.C in January 2009 if and when the first female President of the United States is sworn in!