As an American expat, you are part of a 9 million person strong community of fellow countrymen and countrywomen living abroad. Of the 9 million, an estimated 6.5 million American expats are over the age of 18 and eligible to vote. If we were considered as one, American expats would represent the United States’ 11th largest state by population. However, American expats are the most disengaged voter group – less than 12% of us requested ballots in the last presidential election. That’s less than voter turnout in most voter demographics tracked – including 18-29 year olds!
It does. Especially if you or your American parent(s) last lived in a swing state, you can literally swing the election. The most famous example of this happening was in 2000 when George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 537 votes after late-to-arrive overseas ballots were counted in Florida.
Overseas Americans can register at their last address on US soil or at their American parent(s)’ last address. Assuming votes from America’s 6.5 million expat voters are distributed based on voter population by state, we conducted an analysis to evaluate whether overseas votes could sway the outcome. Our conclusion: in states where the spread between Republican and Democratic votes is below 4%, expat votes can change the election. In 2016, 10 states had less than a 4% gap between Republican and Democratic votes. We believe the 2020 election will be even tighter.
We believe the US election of 2020 will be the most important election of our lifetimes. The election will decide and project America’s views on critical topics:
Healthcare: With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, we get to decide on the future of healthcare planning, access and affordability.
Equality and Social Justice: Recent events have exposed the country’s ongoing racial discrimination and income inequality, and have reignited discussions on the future of law enforcement. The president-elect will play an outsized role in addressing these issues.
The Economy: 40 million Americans are unemployed, the highest statistic on record. Economic stimulus and policy to emerge from the COVID-19 health crisis will be implemented by the next president.
Sustainability and The Environment: The US has pulled out of the Paris Agreement and reduced incentives for businesses to minimize greenhouse gas emission. International pressure will mount over the coming years for the US to play its part in this debate.
Gun Policy: You may believe in defending the Second Amendment or in greater restrictions for guns in the US. This election cycle could decide future gun policy in America.
Visas and immigration: This is often an issue close to the hearts of many expat Americans, who have had to manage immigration cases for loved ones. Does the system work? Make your voice heard.
Cost of College and Education: Many of us live in countries where education is offered at a fraction of what it costs in the US. COVID-19 has also forced a discussion on the future of education. The president-elect and his administration will influence access and affordability of education for our families, and the rest of America.
Retirement and Social Security: Almost 25% of Americans have no retirement savings. Social Security is anticipated to run out of funding in the early 2030s. The next US president will make important decisions that will impact our lives for years to come.
Foreign Policy: The global order is changing, and the next president will be instrumental in deciding how the US participates in the global conversation going forward.
We don’t care which way you vote, just that you do. This election will be consequential in deciding the country’s future, and you should have a say as to which direction it goes.
Americans live in over 170 countries around the world. We experience vividly the way America is viewed abroad. Expats perform the thankless duty of bridging gaps and building trust between other countries and the US. We would argue that expat votes are critical, as we reflect a different perspective well-informed by the world outside of America.
No, it won’t. This is a major misconception that has kept expats from voting in the past. Voting in a federal office election (ex. President, Senator, and Representative in Congress (inclusive of Delegate or Resident Commissioner)) may not be used by states as the basis of determining residency for the purpose of charging you state and local taxes. It is your right as an American to vote in the General Election (except if you have never lived in the US and you claim one of 16 states as residence. See in HOW TO VOTE for details).