Voting

The overseas voter: Can (s)he make a difference?

The closer we get to what is projected to be a close election, the more people are turning their eyes to that other potential voting block: overseas Americans

Generally, polls are announced as having been conducted in “x” states or even in “all 50 states” but when was the last time you heard of a presidential poll that included overseas voters?

And yet…

The State Department estimate of over 8.5 million overseas Americans are, as we are often reminded, spread over all 50 states and all 435 Congressional districts… so is their impact negligible?  The Federal voting Assistance program estimates that overseas voters account for over 3% of the total vote, yet look at the number of seats won in 2014 with less than a 2% margin: in the House, Jim Costa (CA-16), Gwen Graham (FL-2), John Delaney (MD-6), Rick Nolan (MN-8), Sean Maloney (NY-18) and Dan Newhouse (WA-4), and in the Senate, Mark Warner (VA).  And those who won by less than 1%: in the House, Ami Berra (CA-7, Martha McSally (AZ-2) and Louise Slaughter (NY-25), and in the Senate: Thom Tillis (NC) and Cory Gardner (CO). Michelle Obama, in a speech at George Mason University, noted that President Obama won in Ohio in 2012 by a mere nine votes per precinct, and in Florida, by six votes per precinct.  That kind of gives one pause… 

An article by two Oxford researchers discusses how overseas voters may make a difference in 2016.  Having championed overseas voting rights for years, AARO encourages everyone who has not yet to register and request a ballot and, when it arrives, to send it back in plenty of time to have it counted.

In that same George Mason speech, the First Lady reminded the students that “Elections aren’t just about who votes, but who doesn’t vote.”

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