Given how close the returns were for the 2000 presidential election in the United States, it is no surprise that both Democrats and Republicans are concerned with a group of voters that are far-flung across the globe: overseas voters. It is estimated that 4 to 10 million U.S. residents live overseas, and many of them have expressed strong interest in making sure their vote is counted. While certain technological innovations such as the Web assist in helping overseas voters with the process, there continue to be other potential pitfalls as well. The New York Times recently reported that election officials in several crucial swing states failed to mail out “tens of thousands” of absentee ballots by the September 20 cutoff date. Both Republicans and Democrats have stepped up their efforts to get out the vote abroad, with certain chapters adopting interesting nicknames, such as the chapter of Democrats in Iraq, which took on the sobriquet “Donkeys in the Desert”. Steven Hill, a San Francisco-based analyst for the Center for Voting and Democracy, noted that “This time around I think the overseas votes could be really crucial. Each side may need just a few more votes in Iowa, or Wisconsin or Florida.”
This first link leads to a news story from this Wednesday’s San Francisco Chronicle that discusses the efforts underway to encourage Americans overseas to cast their ballots in the upcoming presidential election. The second link leads to a good piece from the Irish Echo, which also profiles the situation of Americans voting from abroad, with a particular emphasis on those individuals living in Ireland, whose number is estimated to be close to 100,000. The third link is another news piece from the Indianapolis Star (culled from the New York Times) which talks about the sometimes baffling system faced by overseas voters. The fourth link will take visitors to the homepage of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which provides information on how to make sure the votes of those persons voting from abroad are counted, along with online registration and absentee ballot request forms. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the Center for Voting and Democracy organization, which provides a good deal of helpful information on such topics as instant runoff voting, redistricting, and the electoral college. The final link leads to a site designed by the BBC that provides a historic retrospective (complete with video clips) of some of the previous presidential debates from the past 40 years.