Vote 2012: Americans in the UK

The six million American voters that live abroad proved critical to Obama's victory in 2008. This year, Democrat activists are looking to repeat the trick.

London For Obama

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Karin J. Robinson is the Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad UK and was the Democratic Party’s Regional Field Director for Americans Abroad in Northern Europe in 2008. She blogs at the Huffington Post and at

With all the attention on next week’s mayoral elections, and the expectations of a disappointing result for voters on the left, perhaps progressives can take comfort in another election that will be taking place in London and across the UK: the vote for Barack Obama here in Britain.

London-for-ObamaFrom May 1-6, more than 6 million American voters who live overseas will have their first and only chance to cast a ballot in person for Barack Obama, and to choose the delegates who will represent them at the Democratic Convention in North Carolina.

Why does this matter? Well, first and foremost, this overseas primary will be one of the first tests of Democrats’ ability to bring back the voting coalition that won us our sweeping victories in 2008.

As a Regional Field Director for Americans Abroad at that time, it was my job to increase voting participation from American voters living here in Europe. The Obama campaign understood that Americans living abroad have historically had difficulty voting, and have often been underrepresented at the polls. In 2008, however, we achieved an astonishing 750% increase in our confirmed Democratic vote.

With the resurgence of the American right, and the Republican Party’s worrying efforts to suppress the vote by introducing restrictive new voting laws across the country, it is now more important than ever before that the Democrats are able to bring underrepresented voting groups back to the polls.

The overseas vote can be a secret weapon in this fight, as a large group of voters that not only vote Democrat in record numbers, but who can make a difference in scores of close races, from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Michigan to Florida, because they will cast their November ballots in their home states, and who – moreover – are invisible to pollsters. Democrats living abroad will not show up in any voting projections until the one that counts, on election day.


See also:

Obama’s playing against a weak field, but it’ll never be as bad as last time 21 Feb 2012

World Outside Westminster: Obama’s glee at the Republican implosion 19 Feb 2012

USA 2012: Mitt spends four times as much as Gingrich, gets 1.4 times the votes 1 Feb 2012

The World Outside Westminster – Oh, Carolina 22 Jan 2012

Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire: Press round-up 11 Jan 2012


Yet the challenge of organising these voters is significant. The 50 states have different rules for voting in federal elections, and although much progress has been made of late in increasing voter access for Americans living abroad, one recent change to the law means that states that were previously required to keep overseas voters on their rolls for two full election cycles now may
require a fresh ballot request each election year.

As such, Democrats Abroad is making a major push for voter registration and ballot requests this year. We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible by creating – a one stop shop for all overseas registrations and ballot requests.

Here in London on May 1st, we are pulling out all the stops, offering live music, speeches, American flags in abundance, and one simple message: vote here to make a big difference back home.


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  • weldon kennedy

    With 6 million of us Americans abroad, you have to wonder why all the donation forms on Obama’s site require a US address to validate. It’s like leaving off Indiana – only I reckon we would donate more than Indiana.

    Non-Americans in the US can sneak in a donation, but Americans abroad can’t.

  • KarinJR

    Hiya – actually, there’s a special donation page for Americans Abroad, designed to accept foreign addresses etc. You can find it here:

    And yes, Americans Abroad are big donors!

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  • DP

    President Obama declared that it’s time to double down on clean energy. If by that he means he wants to give another multi-trillion dollars to companies that have so far only produced an efficient light bulb, costing $50 each unless subsidized by the government. Did he think we have forgotten Solyndra, Solar Trust of America, Fisker Automotive, etc., which haven’t helped the unemployment problem, and many have so far filed for bankruptcy? The money being wasted will have to be repaid or the country itself also will have to file for bankruptcy. If anyone has any respect for posterity, we must put a stop to this idiocy. I certainly don’t want my children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren saddled with these debts that we are now incurring. Ray P. Hutchinson Hampton

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  • Anonymous

    Yes, better to have growth 3% lower and to double-dip.

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