US expats overseas may hold the key to locking out Trump

Published:  7 Sep at 6 PM
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Eight million US expat voters living and working overseas may hold the key to locking Donald Trump out of the White House.

The vast majority of US citizens living abroad are regular followers of the US political scene, especially in presidential election years. This time, with both candidates contentious, to say the least, it’s hoped that more US expats exercise their right to vote in order to make sure Republican candidate Donald Trump gets his marching orders.

The millions of overseas US citizens have had the power to tip elections in close contests since 1975’s Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act kicked in. Nowadays, overseas-based organisations such as Americans Abroad, Vote from Abroad and Overseas Vote Foundation are busy offering help and guidance on registering to vote from world-wide locations..

According to many Americans living outside the home country, the expat experience gives different, less involved perspectives on what’s going down in US politics. At present, the top issues within the USA seem to be terrorist attacks at home and the economy, neither of which have much effect on those living overseas. For US expats, taxes and the FATCA reporting regulations are number one, with both issues rarely addressed by presidential candidates.

Other issues now of concern to US expats include the recent legislation aimed at denying or revoking US passports for those with tax debts. Problems with citizenship transmission for the children of US nationals who’ve been born overseas and the reduction of social security payments to expats with foreign pensions are other causes for expat discontent. Again, presidential candidates rarely touch on matters of crucial importance to US expats.

As a result of being almost entirely ignored by their government except on matters of taxes due, the majority of the eight million overseas Americans don’t bother to vote. Around 15 per cent is the average although occasionally, and particularly at the end of the Bush/Gore battle, their votes might have resulted in a very different America. This time round, both Democrats Abroad and Republicans Overseas are urging their compatriots to stand up and vote, with the Democrats far better organised that their competitors.

Even if the worst doesn’t happen and Clinton wins by a landslide, it seems US expats voters have a real chance to increase their representatives’ numbers in the mainly Republican senate. Should this happen, it would be the first time in many years and might result in more lawmaking and fewer endless arguments between opposing factions.
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