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FOCUS: Voting from afar (Dec. 2018)

December 30th, 2018 · No Comments

Democrats Abroad celebrate mid-term results

By Shyanne Cole

Democrats Abroad gathered at the Madison Avenue Pub on November 6 to watch results for the mid-term election come in from the United States of America. American flags hanging from the walls, peeking out of shirt pockets, and draping many shoulders made it a very vibrant night.

Yusuf Nakhooda, a 42-year-old legal assistant from Texas, summed up the mood of the crowd as it became clear that the Democrats would take the House of Representatives.

He was, he said, “very encouraged for the House to get ready for 2020”.

“This is an important election,” said Karin Lippert, a Democrats Abroad board member. “There has never been this great a response, and this is because of topics like climate change, education, and health care.”

Democrats Abroad is an official arm of the Democratic Party that helps American Democrats around the world cast their ballot. It has 100 chapters in other countries around the world, and thousands of members in Toronto alone. It also raises student awareness about voting away from home, and established new chapters at the University of Toronto and McGill University this year.

“We have helped 200,000 American Democrats obtain ballots and vote,” said Lippert. It has call centres staffed with volunteer callers who reach out to American citizens who live outside of the United States, and help them navigate the international voting process.

“We have helped 200,000 American Democrats obtain ballots and vote”—Karin Lippert, Democrats Abroad

Help provided even goes beyond the ballot. Democrats Abroad posts up-to-date taxation information on its website, and helps its members file their annual returns.

Burke McCarthy, a 62-year-old consultant from Rochester, New York, explained how the organization helped him file his tax returns.

“It’s difficult to do two sets of taxes, it can take two straight weeks sometimes and going to tax people has caused constant errors for me,” said the call centre volunteer.

Burke added that Democrats Abroad also helps to foster a sense of community, making members feel more at home no matter where they live.

That sense of community was on display at the Madison, as cheers of excitement and hope broke out as each new update was posted. Everyone was welcome, with the event drawing people who follow politics south of the border, even if they aren’t a citizen.

“Since we are such close neighbours, what happens in America happens here too, so it’s nice to have a foot in the door when it comes to American politics,” said Dylan Heera, a 21-year-old Torontonian.

The board members of Democrats Abroad meet once per month, but the organization hosts events for all of its members throughout the year. The Madison Avenue Pub is one of its most frequented spots, especially on election nights.

You can sign up to be a member of Democrats Abroad through their website, www.democratsabroad.org. You must be an American citizen, be 18 on or before voting day, and live outside of the United States.

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