Six weeks before the U.S. mid-term elections on Nov. 6, the Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad encourages hundreds of Americans on Vancouver Island and Gulf Island to register to vote.
Member-at-large Heidi Burch said it’s a common misconception that U.S. citizens living out of the country can only vote for presidential elections. The nearly 1,500 members of the Democrats Abroad Victoria and the Islands Chapter, and thousands more U.S. voters in the region, are part of an estimated million Americans living in Canada. With up to seven million across the world, Get Out the Vote stresses how important every vote is.
“We’re trying to spread the word that as a U.S. citizen living outside the U.S. — dual citizen or single — can register and vote in any federal election, which is the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and president. Many states will also allow overseas voters to vote on state elections like governor and state legislature,” Burch said.
The Victoria chapter of Democrats Abroad is part of an international network. They host voter registration events for all citizens — whether or not they’re voting for the Democrats — and social events like 4th of July parties, election night results screenings at bars, and an annual tax seminar to wade through U.S.-Canadian tax issues.
Every year, Democrats Abroad calls their members ahead of an election to offer any help they need to vote.
The upcoming mid-term election is “crucial,” Burch said, but overseas voting tends to drop because many don’t know they are eligible to vote for their member of the House.
“If there’s going to be any kind of oversight of the Trump administration and looking into the problems with the 2016 election, the interference and the other problems with the Trump administration… The only way to get oversight is to have Congress fulfill its constitutional obligation, and the Republican majority in the Senate and the House have refused to do that,” Burch said.
The state level, she added, is where climate change and redistricting decisions are made by governors and the state legislature.
While the midterm election is on Nov. 6, every state has different deadlines for absentee voters. Ballots began going out on Sept. 22, but ballots must be requested every year by the voter with a one-page form. Some states allow electronic submissions, but many require a ballot is mailed by election day.
“The standard advice is just do it now,” Burch said.
Ballots can be requested and more information can be found on votefromabroad.org. Upcoming events hosted by Democrats Abroad can be found on their Facebook page. Their weekly newsletter has suggested actions members can take in response to what’s in the news, such as calling senators about Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“There’s just so much going on,” she said. “The great thing is even though we’re outside the U.S., we still have a voice in Congress, we can call our representatives in Congress and let them know how we’re feeling about things.”