Turnout among overseas voters could be much higher this year as Americans rush to register to vote from abroad, multiple teams helping Americans vote overseas have told Euronews.
From national ballot downloads to organizations assisting Americans abroad, many have noticed that website traffic went up over the past few months with panicked Americans abroad inquiring about getting their ballots earlier in the year.
It matches a general narrative of high early turnout from the USA, with record amounts showing up in multiple nations as Americans cast their ballot ahead of the election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts also say that if trends suggest, there’s greater turnout abroad, it might have an impact on this election.
Around 4.7 million US citizens are living overseas and generally, only a small number of their 2.8 million of those that are eligible to vote in elections, actually do this.
A mere 616,477 Americans living abroad, including members of the military, voted at the 2016 presidential election, only 23 percent of people who were entitled.
But almost half of those voters cast their ballots in swing states – key countries that presidential candidates must win to carry the election.
Americans living abroad in 2016 cast nearly 300,000 votes in crucial battleground states, such as 46,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania says that Trump won in 2016 that handed him the election.
As of last week, almost 700,000 ballots were downloaded to the Federal Voting Assistance Programme website, a spokesperson for the defense department program which assists voters told Euronews.
But that is only 1 way that Americans abroad get their ballots.
Voters can request the forms directly from their nations, which run the elections, or go through several organizations set up to help them.
Traffic upward on voting organization websites
Traffic to the US Vote Foundation website, the largest non-partisan organization assisting Americans to vote from overseas, is up 150% this election cycle.
Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, creator and CEO of the US Vote Foundation, stated that she noticed that there were Americans requesting ballots earlier than usual and says it may be reminiscent of US voters trying to become more prepared amid both the pandemic and also concern about mail-in voting.
“We have seen significant, important activity coming much sooner than we had earlier. It began for us large in June and lasted in July and went up in August again,” Dzieduszycka-Suinat informed Euronews, including that news in America about postal delays as well as the disagreements coordinated with much more ballot registrations too.
Democrats Abroad, the overseas arm of the Democratic Party which helps to enroll voters too, said there were already 600,000 individuals who’d used their tool to register and ask for their ballot for this year.
On their website, they’re at 2.7 times the involvement that they had in 2016.
It means that the amount of ballots downloaded from citizens abroad is likely already over a million, greater than the 900,000 ballots which were transmitted to overseas and military voters in 2016.
Many expect that Americans will continue voting from abroad and state a week to even days before there’s generally a last-minute push to acquire ballots back to the nations.
Around 30 states even permit Americans to vote through email.
Concerns about the process amid COVID-19
Some state that the trends towards a higher turnout could also be attributed to fears about the COVID-19 pandemic which has complicated efforts to return overseas ballots.
COVID-19 has at times slowed the global email cycle.
US embassies in several countries worked to acquire diplomatic pouches back to the United States so that overseas ballots could be delivered, particularly in nations where the postal service was less reliable.
FedEx has also offered a special $25 priority support for US citizens living in 10 European nations. There are large amounts of US taxpayers, specifically, living in the united kingdom, France, Switzerland, and Germany.
However, Dzieduszycka-Suinat, who began the US Vote Foundation fifteen decades back and was the first person to place the voting registration process online, says there are now several programs set up to assist US citizens living abroad making the process more simple.
“That procedure had only been on paper. [When voting from abroad,] I had been given a blurry type and a 500-page instruction book,” Dzieduszycka-Suinat explained.
“Voters can have a great deal greater success voting from abroad,” Dzieduszycka-Suit said.
Many Americans are also getting more engaged because of the 2016 election, volunteering to help others get the vote out to make the process simpler and to encourage more voters.
She has been engaging with voters on the party’s Facebook page and says the societal media is inundated with requests.
Kruckel said she hoped the procedure, together with twenty states still requiring hard ballots to be mailed back, could be streamlined to make it much easier for citizens overseas.
Some countries require ballots to get there by election day, for instance, whereas others require them simply to be postmarked by then.
Margaux Guerardan American citizen that has been living in Paris for three years, reached out to her friends to be sure they were enrolled to vote.
She ended up volunteering to register many Americans who discovered the process to be hard, explaining that lots of people were overwhelmed by busy lives and didn’t have enough time to perform each of the measures it requires.
That included first-time voters who had been living overseas for years but never registered to vote.
Some overseas Republicans have had trouble registering due to election websites being blocked abroad as a result of security issues and some state election officials too inundated with orders to be useful.
Before, countries in Europe who have thousands and thousands of US taxpayers still see low turnout.
US citizens in Germany, meanwhile, had a higher voting rate at 13.9%.
Many are expecting this year, with information on more engagement, that could change.