Interviews & Editorials / Voting as an Expatriate

Voting as an Expatriate

Voting as an Expatriate

1 September 2008 Interviews & Editorials 14

While it is debatable whether the popular vote really counts anymore in the United States, we would hate to find out it did in such an important election, and not have voted.

Many of you who read this website are Americans. And many of you are living outside of the United States. But you can still vote! Here's everything you need to know to do so.

First of all, where will your vote count? It will count in the last state you resided before moving here (if you have no property in the United States) or in the state where you have an official residence. Because the United States votes through delegates, and the actual popular vote count does NOT determine the next president of the country, where your vote counts, counts!


How do you vote? You must vote using an Absentee Ballot. And this website seems to be the easiest way to get one that we've found yet:

This website is sponsored by Democrats Abroad, and it will take you through five easy steps

to register to vote in the United States, regardless of your party affiliation (Democrat, Republican, Independent... ni modo). The process gives you the option of having the form emailed to you, faxed to you or printed out on your computer. Once it is signed, you need to then mail it back to the appropriate office (they will provide you with the address). And you will get your Absentee Ballot soon thereafter (one would assume). The last screen also gives you the option to join Democrats Abroad (not required) and to click whether you are out of the country Temporarily or Indefinitely. It cautions you that if you click "Temporarily", you will be sent state voting information but you will also be liable for income tax in that state.

In case you want a less partisan website, here is the government's site for people voting from overseas:

Some Pros and Cons

So is there a benefit to being an expat in the voting process? Or is it a problem? A London expat put this list together, which we think says it all:

The great thing about being an expat voter is:

  1. I never have to stand in line. My ballot comes to my house - I fill it in and send it back
  2. I definitely have to vote early - which means that there won't be anything which prevents me from voting on election day.
  3. I have plenty of time to mull over my paper ballot in the privacy of my own home.
  4. There's a paper record of my vote!!!

What's not so good about being an expat voter:

  1. You have to pay to post your vote. OR you can take it to the consulate and they will mail it for you... if you trust them to do that.
  2. There's no excitement in the run-up to election day.
  3. Based on the last two elections, despite the fact that there's an actual paper record of my vote, election officials are unlikely to actually tally my ballot.

What? Not a US Citizen?

Perhaps you are reading this and you aren't a US Citizen (though why you would have read this far is a mystery to us, but we digress...). You can still make your voice heard through this Vote For President website, where all the world gets to vote. You can see how different countries vote, which is rather interesting. In case you're wondering, at this writing, 89% of Mexicans who voted on this website voted for Barack Obama.

Speaking of Barack Obama

We thought it was interesting that Democrats held a primary for Democrats Abroad and sent 22 delegates with half a vote each to the recent Democratic National Convention in Denver. That means that the Democrats Abroad organization had more say in the nomination of a candidate than, say, Guam. As well we should, because estimates are that there are six to nine million passport-carrying Americans living outside of US borders. (To find out more about the Democrats Abroad delegation to the Democractic National Convention, read this press release.) It is estimated that expats in Mexico make up 3 million of those passport-carrying Americans outside the bbrders of the US, so there is a lot of work to be done, getting all those Americans registered to vote. We spoke today with Nicholas Moreno, the Mexican regional director for Americans Abroad for Obama. He is looking for people to help here in Merida. We're going to do everything we can to help, but as you know, we are the *Working* Gringos. We are wondering if maybe some of the *Retired* Gringos might not have more time for some of these activities. If you want to help (and by help, we mean registration drives, hosting parties to watch the debates, that sort of thing), please contact Nicholas:

We're looking forward to those debate parties, by the way. It's probably a lot more fun to watch them in a crowd. The Presidential debates are currently scheduled for September 26, October 7 and October 12. There will be a Vice Presidential debate on October 2.

Just Vote

We recently received an email telling the story of a group of women suffragettes who staged a protest in front of the White House, demanding the vote, and who suffered greatly in their battle to obtain the right to vote for women in the United States. And certainly, Barack Obama's presence on the stage at the Democratic Convention reminded us of the battles that raged obtain equal rights for African Americans. We worry about the vote counting process, the voting machines, voting fraud, and much more... and we realize we are not alone. but we still think it is important to vote. If everyone does it, well... maybe there will be change we can believe in.


  • Working Gringos 15 years ago

    It pains us to do this, but this article is now closed to comments. We have received too many comments that we did not feel comfortable approving. We would like to keep Yucatan Living as inclusive as possible, while being free of rancor or negativity.

    Thank you for understanding.

  • Mike 15 years ago

    My problem with Obama (other than the fact that i totally disagree with his worn-out socialist narrative along with the naive notion that he can play pattycakes with Islamic terrorists and expect them to "play nice") is his plan to raise taxes. There are rumors that his plan would include the elimination of tax exemptions on portions of foreign earned income. That could have a huge financial impact on on "working gringos" including democrats.
    Oh yes Vanessa! Lot's of Republicans here!!

  • Lynn de Bruyn 15 years ago

    Yes, Bravo Ellen!

    If I were an American (I'm British) I would certainly vote for Obama. Although I too, am wary of US voting system. I feel that, apart from his traditional qualifications, his upbringing has afforded him a more worldly education. I believe that in today's world, we need to be unified in order to care for the environment and those in need of our help.

  • dixieboy 15 years ago

    It is clear that no method of communication is immune from political rumblings. As a Proud American and former defender of the Constitution and Nation, I stand amazed this election cycle to see all the "stuff" being slung and untruths passed about as fact...on both sides. I support neither side and suppose I need to start deciding which is the lesser of evils. I'm not sure there is a clothespin strong enough to put on my nose when I go to vote to keep from smelling the stench of ugly politics.

    As I stated above, I am a former defender of the Constitution and Nation, read that "former military". I and hundreds of thousands have fought, some giving the ultimate, for this great nation. In defending this nation and the constitution, freedom of speech is one of the many things unique to America. Everyone has the freedom to espouse their views, regardless of who likes them and who doesn't. To enact anything that curtails this freedom of speech at the federal level, is nothing short of censorship. Read that as the beginning of government control of thought and speech, also read that as Socialist policy, for example, the old USSR. The misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" should remain exactly where it the trash for the reasons I've stated. It is certainly unfortunate that the mainstream media is so polarized, but the enactment of censorship is even worse. It would be wonderful if the media would actually discuss fact, not conjecture and outright untruths.

    But regardless of your party connections, the right to vote is extremely important and one should not cast a vote without thought. I applaud all of you who take the time to get your absentee ballots and send them back. It is a part of a FREE nation!

    I know there are those of you out there who will have much to say about my comment, probably not much of it pretty, but the fact you are able to say those things without the government coming and knocking on your door, taking you off to jail is courtesy of those who have given their total being to preserve those freedoms!

    Enjoy YOUR freedoms! Go VOTE!

  • Louise Vogel 15 years ago

    There is a non partisan organization that is dedicated to giving very complete and clear instruction for voting.

  • Vanessa 15 years ago

    i meant to say oh man!
    not oh mean.


  • Vanessa 15 years ago

    oh mean, so that means there are Republican gringos in merida!

  • CasiYucateco 15 years ago

    Just a note to any who misunderstood given the way "mexicano" comments about political involvement: Visa holders are prohibited from interfering in Mexican politics in any way - participating in marches, donating money, public speeches, organizing or anything else. Not in local, state or national elections. Zip, nil, nada: Zero foreign participation in Mexican politics. That is the law.

    Notice, though, that it is **Mexican politics**, not other nations' politics. Mexican visa requirements do not force visa holders to surrender all interest in their home countries. They are free to participate to their hearts' desire in their home politics and elections.

    Those visiting privately-owned websites with the assumption that each website must provide a perfectly balanced view of all elections may be somewhat delusional. The "Fairness Doctrine" was thrown out during the Reagan years; the loss of that Doctrine is what allowed people like Rush Limbaugh to even become possible.

    The "Fairness Doctrine" (once) applied to the public airwaves, not privately-owned websites which people seek as a destination. So, the accusations thrown are somewhat off-base, that is, based on an invalid concept of how and why things actually work the way they do.

  • Peregrina 15 years ago

    Well said Ellen, bravo, I have the choice to vote for whom ever I want, some might not agreed with my choice but that's okay, that is the reason of why we are "under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all"...

  • Carol Judd 15 years ago

    We are still living in the States but if we were in Merida, we would be sending in our ballot. As long as I can vote and am a citizen, I will do whatever to cast my ballot since, living in or out of the States, we are all affected by the outcome.

  • Ellen Fields 15 years ago

    Hola, Mexicano...

    You're right... in this article, I mentioned Democrats more. And I give the details of how to reach the Democratic representative in Mexico, because he called me and gave me that information. I have had no such contact from the Republicans Abroad (here's their website: Republicans Abroad). And no, it's not a mystery who I am supporting for President this November.

    I'm concerned about "voter rigging"... how could I not be, given the last two Presidential elections? I work in technology... I've read a lot about the voting machines and I know they are not secure. You can read about it here and here and many other places. So yes, I'm concerned.

    There are problems with both sides... I'll be the first to tell you that I am wary of all political figures, and am of the philosophy that in order to get to that level in politics, a person usually has to sell their soul. But given the choice, I feel Obama will be a better leader and will lead the country (and the world) in a saner direction. He also has a better chance of being in good health throughout his term and having the fortitude to work as hard as Presidents should work.

    Because, you see, as a world citizen, I am more concerned about the state of the world and the health of the planet than the happiness of Americans. I feel that the candidate I support has a better chance of achieving world peace through diplomatic negotiations with other countries. I know that John McCain thinks he can win the war in Iraq and more wars like it, but I don't want more war. I don't want my tax dollars paying for war. I think my candidate is more likely to slow down the rush to drill in Alaska and might actually appoint someone to positions of power that actually cares about wildlife, forests, oceans... and realizes they aren't infinite.

    In voting for Barack Obama, I am trying to make the best possible choice, with the realization that nobody (and nothing in this world) is perfect. I'm hoping and praying for our planet's sake that most Americans see it somewhat the same way that I do.

    All that said, I certainly respect yours (and all our other readers') opinions and decisions, even if they don't agree with me. What I don't respect (and won't approve as a comment) is any mudslinging or name calling.

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