US expat voters could decide result of US Presidential election

Published:  21 Apr at 6 PM
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With eight million or more US citizens living overseas and the campaign for presidential candidates the most controversial for decades, could overseas votes change the outcome of the presidential election?

A report issued by Oxford University’s Rothermere American Institute and authored by Jay Sexton and Patrick Andelic is suggesting that overseas voters are often ignored as to their effect on the outcome of US presidential elections. It states that, in the past, expatriate votes have made critical differences and could in this instance sway the balance in a significant manner.

The study, entitled ‘America’s Overseas Voters: How They Could Decide the US Presidency in 2016’, makes the point that both Republicans Overseas and Democrats Abroad are struggling to galvanise the worldwide expat vote. In previous elections, the average turnout of overseas expats scraped up 12 per cent of the total although their numbers are equal to that of a populous US state.

The authors of the study are convinced that expat votes taken as a single entity could hold far more potential political power than is generally recognised. The stumbling block preventing full expat involvement, they add, is the misapprehension that overseas votes will have little impact on the results.

The report points out a precedent during the year 2000’s presidential election, when delayed expat ballots were responsible for George W Bush’s tiny Florida 537-vote majority. Had the deadline for receiving overseas votes been strictly adhered to, Al Gore would have won the state and become president, albeit with an even smaller majority of 202 votes.

Given the nature of this year’s campaign to date, both Republicans Overseas and Democrats Abroad should be increasing their efforts to persuade the expat community that its vote really does count. Democrats Abroad is closer to the national party and has more chance to ratchet up enthusiasm overseas as well as giving better voting options. In addition, its recent recognition as a separate state gives it 21 delegates at the Democratic National Convention, similar to the states of Maine and Wyoming.
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