Click through to hear the replay of the kick-off of a new monthly show when special guest, Harolynne Bobis (Greece), talked about American politics. Here’s what Harolynne wants to share: So the big question facing American expatriates is should I vote in the midterm elections or should I just forget about it. Of course, the answer is “You should vote.”
Editor’s note: The US Democratic Party lost a lot of seats in the House of Representatives and its majority, and less in the Senate and hung on to its majority, during the 2010 mid-term elections. Many call this a referendum on the Obama Administration. Statistics show that young people were not engaged this year as they were in 2008 while the Republics leveraged domestic issues, including high unemployment as a rallying cry to take back the US. The historic health care legislation hangs in the balance as the Republicans threaten to reverse all of the progress the Obama Administration made in a brief two years following 8 years of Republican rule.
Could the overseas vote have made a difference?
As American society becomes more and more polarized, the elections are closer and closer. And the last votes counted, and therefore the ones that count the most, are those of Uniformed Service and Overseas Civilian voters. Uniformed Service voters include all active duty military personnel, their spouses and their dependents, whether they are stationed within or without the United States. Overseas Civilians are all the rest of us.
The Department of Defense is responsible for making sure that these two constituencies can vote. Military personnel first got the right to vote absentee during the Civil War. It took quite a bit longer for civilians who were not members of the Foreign Service apparatus. A quick anecdote – Several overseas citizen groups began campaigning for the right to vote absentee by attaching tea bags to letters to their members of Congress (but they didn’t call themselves Teabaggers).
Their movement was finally successful during the presidency of Gerald Ford. A current member of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, suggested that President Ford veto the legislation to protect against “voter fraud.” Thankfully, Senator Barry Goldwater convinced President Ford that he didn’t want to be the first president since Reconstruction to veto a voting rights act.