The following account is written by Arya Babollah, the views expressed are those of the author.
Hello, my name is Arya. The 2020 U.S. election will be my first time to exercise my U.S. voting rights. I will be voting as an overseas American. A few months ago, I wasn’t sure how I could vote. I then came across the U.S. Vote Foundation, an organisation that enables both domestic and overseas Americans to vote.
I am now working with U.S. Vote creating social media content and establishing partnerships to help out with both domestic and overseas voting outreach efforts.
In 2016, the federal government stated that around 7% of eligible overseas Americans cast a ballot, versus nearly 72% of those stateside. The significantly lower voter turnout rate amongst overseas Americans can be brought back to millions of overseas Americans lacking the awareness of how to vote. Also, the many myths surrounding overseas voting often dissuade eligible overseas voters. Some believe that to vote they must have lived in or have an active mailing address. These are myths that are not valid.
From being a One Young World ambassador, I have learnt that you must consistently work towards tackling the problems that exist within the world, to bring about positive change. Former Secretary-General to the UN, Kofi Annan once said, “You are never too young to lead, act and take charge where you can.” At 19, I hope to change the culture around voter mobilisation and get it to work towards engaging more eligible overseas voters.
The vast majority of voter mobilisation efforts often solely focus on eligible domestic voters. In the process of doing so, they have forgotten to engage and empower overseas Americans like me to vote. Americans hold their voting rights wherever they are in the world. All citizens should be made aware of how to vote regardless of where they are in the world. That is why initiatives such as the Overseas Vote Foundation are vital to our democracy.
Overseas Americans can make a difference across all elections, especially in local elections. These races are sometimes decided, within several thousands or hundreds of votes. The culture around voter mobilisation needs to change to include more overseas voting outreach. We need to focus more on it for not only this election but all the elections to follow.
To register and vote as either a domestic or overseas American voter:
2. Enter your information into the system and then download, print and sign the form.
3. Send your signed form to your election office address.