A reader asked if I would say something about voting from abroad. I will do my best. What I’ve learned, I learned from Democrats Abroad which is a huge organization. Right now, all the energy of Dems Abroad is focused on making sure that all voters have requested their ballots. We can get them snail-mail or by e-mail. Information, state by state, on voting from abroad can be found at: https://www.votefromabroad.org
As a voter who still votes in California but lives in Paris, it is mandatory for me to register every year. On my on-line registration form, I was asked how I would like to receive my ballot. I asked that mine come by e-mail. I read recently that a good 25% of absentee ballots get thrown out because the voter didn’t do something correctly. Dems Abroad Paris has set up tables with volunteers to help people walk through filling out their ballot step by step. On Sunday, phone lines are open all day long. Volunteers are answering any questions a voter might have.
Unlike voters in the US, we can vote twice. It is a backup ballot known as the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Volunteers are set up in two places in Paris to walk people through that process. At the volunteer table, I was given two pieces of paper. I filled out the first with all my pertinent information: what state I vote in, how to identify me and my signature. The second piece of paper is a ballot with only federal offices. I filled that out with my choice of President, Senator (if someone was running), House of Representatives. Once I filled that out, I put it in an envelope and wrote Ballot on the front. I folded up the first piece of paper and, along with the envelope, put it in a second envelope. I addressed that to my Registrar of Voters in Oakland, California.
Why can we vote twice? The back-up vote is opened ONLY if the the absentee ballot doesn’t reach me in time to meet the voting requirements. At the time that I sent in my FWAB, I had not received my ballot. It has since arrived. Since I asked that it come by e-mail, I had to do all my choices on-line. When I was satisfied that it was complete, the program put it onto one piece of paper which I printed. I then went to the Poste and sent it with tracking. Some states allow you send back by e-mail. California only allows fax or snail mail.
I will probably wait three weeks and then go into the website of Alameda County Registrar of Voters. I can put in my name, address, and the end part of my Social Security number and I will get a message if my ballot has arrived. With all that I have heard about the beleaguered postal system, I felt it necessary to allow five weeks for it to arrive on or before Nov. 3.
Dems Abroad Paris is very active. Since we cannot gather inside with more than ten people, all the volunteer tables are outside in front of sympathetic stores. Shakespeare and Co., in the 5th arrondissement, has had volunteers helping Americans vote every Saturday since the beginning of September.
I will finish up this blog by telling you about something that I think is wonderful. On Monday, the website and app, http://www.TenPercent.com (a wonderful tool for learning and practicing mindfulness mediation) created something called The 2020 Election Sanity Guide. Started by Dan Harris of Channel ABC, ten percent will have a podcast each Monday in October and meditations available all the time for those of us whose brains are fried by the onslaught of information, the viciousness of campaigning and the weariness that makes one feel as if this will never end. “This guide will help you stay sane and engaged during the 2020 US Elections, without burning out. There’s something for everyone in the resources below.” says the webpage. And below there are talks and mediations and podcasts and more. Check it out. There will be a daily gift to us for the last seven days before the election. Even if you have never thought about meditation, you will enjoy the talks and podcasts. Dan Harris is funny, irreverant and knowledgeable.
Stay safe, maintain distance, be smart and stay well,
10 thoughts on “GOTV (Get Out The Vote)”
Terrific post, Sara. Now I’m going to ask my family in Panama if there are similar groups helping expats vote in Panama City. Keep going Sara. You are the author others say that you are.
Sister author, Marlena
That’s great, I didn’t think I’d be inspiring people in other countries! Thank you for the kind words. Indeed we are sisters!!!
High praise, thank you. I read you every single blog!!
So heartening to read about the support our ex-pats are getting to vote. Thank you for filling us in! Sara, thank you for adding your vote to the efforts to regain safety and sanity, here.
Sara, great column about GOTV! I just hope the Orange Gorilla doesn’t hear that you voted twice (tho you clearly explain why only one of your votes will count). I think many Dems abroad will appreciate your instructions. BTW, thanks for posting Peggy’s column in the Guardian. Wasn’t it a great piece? and no doubt you read about how violent extremest planned to kill our great Michigan Governor. We are appalled.
Thank you Leslie. Yes, we get all the news here and since the sun rises 6 hours earlier, we get it before you. I’m phonebanking for Michigan!!!
Thank you for your clear & concise explanation about voting abroad. Love the photo of Shakespeare & Company. I am not at all surprised they would be helping voters there.
I finally read this wonderful post. As a voting rights advocate who is working 24/7 to get out the vote in this most important, nail biter of an election, I appreciate your information on how Americans can cast their votes from abroad. Thank you, Sara.
Thanks for your important and dedicated work, Jessica. Thanks also for suggesting I write about it.