So, I came across something called Overseas Citizens Voters Week, which is taking place between Saturday, June 28th and Monday, June 7th. (I also noticed that Republicans Abroad have republished the above notice about the week of voter engagement...)
So, the week is organized by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which basically works for the Secretary of Defense and is in charge of facilitating overseas voter registration and absentee voting for our military and their families, for our diplomats, and for millions of citizens, who are living abroad either temporarily or permanently. Considering some of the criticisms that the FVAP received in 2004, the on-line community can play a part in ensuring that this year the Overseas Citizens Voters Week is actually "geared toward non-military voters."
basically, i guess the most important thing we can do is to email our American friends who are living abroad (or who will be studying abroad during this semester) so that they know about http://www.VoteFromAbroad.org managed by Democrats Abroad. FYI, the website is also available in Spanish.
The above website helps you fill out your Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), which registers you and requests your absentee ballot, and the website also provides information about the Federal Write-in Absentte Ballot (FWAB), in case you do not receive an absentee ballot from your state.
Below there are:
* suggestions for how to find (through myBO, through Democrats Abroad and through Meetup) like-minded people.
* a list of a few upcoming voter registration events...though if you search the above mentioned resources and sign-up for your area's groups, you'll likely find other events
* some information for helping GOTV provided by the Secretary of Democrats Abroad and by the Assistant Voting Action Officer at the Department of State...(mostly concerning how to order hard copies of the FPCA and FWAB forms and how to get yourself trained in order to help other people vote from abroad)
* a draft email to send to your friends living abroad
(If you have any thoughts about how to improve the information here or if you'd like to add your upcoming event to the below examples, please let me know in the comments)
SOME GENERAL ESTIMATES OF POTENTIAL OVERSEAS VOTERS
Federal officials say roughly 6 million Americans overseas are eligible to vote: 3.2 million private expatriates; 1.4 million members of the armed forces and 1.3 million of their relatives; and about 200,000 State Department workers and other government employees.
the U.S. embassy in Mexico City estimates the number at 350,000, but others say it could be a million or more. Britain is believed to host about 250,000 Americans. Israel, with 158,000 Americans...About 67,000 Americans live in Italy.
an estimated 400,000 eligible American voters living in Canada
POTENTIAL WAYS TO WORK WITH OBAMA VOLUNTEERS OR DEMOCRATS ABROAD
Join the official Obama group Americans Abroad for Obama.
And here are three resources to look at:
- search the volunteer groups on Obama's website by keyword (e.g. "Japan" or "Toronto" etc). FYI, there are over 50 groups on myBO that are listed under the category of Americans Abroad.
- You can search the Democrats Abroad website for a group in your country, and FYI, their Secretary responded promptly when I asked for advice.
- You can search: http://democrat.meetup.com/
There are some existing meetup groups in Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, and other European countries, and elsewhere, there are members, who are waiting for somebody like you to organize a meetup...
EXAMPLES OF UPCOMING EFFORTS ABROAD
In AUSTRALIA, the Democrats Abroad group is looking for student organizers in order to get out the study abroad vote on Australian campuses...
In CANADA for example, there was a recent event in Vancouver that registered some 70 Americans living abroad.
In IRELAND there are events July 4-6 in Galway, Dublin, Kildare, Sligo, Limerick, Cork, Mayo
In Tokyo, JAPAN there is a July 4 voter reg event
FYI, potential contact email: gotv [at] democratsabroad.org.uk
In NORWAY there are events June 28 - July 4 in Kvinnesdal and Frogner park
INFORMATION ABOUT HELPING GOTV (getting the FPCA & FWAB)
According to the International Secretary of Democrats Abroad, who I emailed:
Re: voter assistance training, it is always an advantage [to have the official hard copies of the FPCA and FWAB]. Although, thanks to VoteFromAbroad.org, it is less important than it used to be. These days, rather than hauling around a bag full of materials and holding people's hands to help them, it is just as easy to simply get the word out about VFA, which will lead voters step-by-step through the whole process. The added advantage of VFA is that it provides us valuable statistical data and, at the end of the process, the voter is offered the opportunity to join Democrats Abroad.
For official State Dept voter assistance training, the relevant contact would be American Citizen Services at a local consulate or embassy.
So here is the central website for contacting your US Embassy or Consulate. And here's the website where you can learn about becoming trained as a Voting Assistance Officer, but according to the relevant contact at the Department of State (see below), it is okay if you simply do the self-administered training on-line and then contact your country's Voting Assistance Officer...
I also contacted the Department of State's Voting Action Officers, and FYI, they were extremelly prompt in responding and provided helpful advice. [bold emphasis and text in brackets are mine]
Thank you very much for your interest in becoming a Voting Assistance Officer. Although we do not have a formal program for volunteer civilian VAOs, anyone can help register American citizen voters and educate voters about the absentee voting process.
You can request FPCAs and FWABs from the Federal Voting Assistance Program by calling 1-800-438-VOTE or sending an e-mail message to email@example.com (attn: Bobby Flanders). We only request that your voter registration efforts be non-partisan.
Interested voting assistants are welcome to contact me at this e-mail address to find out if there's an instructor-led workshop in their country. Alternately, you can contact the Voting Assistance Officers at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Our overseas voting officers use a standard e-mail address of voteCITY@state.gov (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
I recommend that anyone who has completed the self-administered training contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Embassy or Consulate may be able to provide FPCAs and FWABs based on availability, and may also be able to give you some motivational voting posters.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.
DRAFT EMAIL TO SEND TO YOUR FRIENDS
DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT
submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). FYI, Democrats Abroad have an e-wizard http://www.VoteFromAbroad.org/ where you can fill in your information and then print out your FPCA. Alternatively, there's this website http://www.fvap.gov/...
do this as early as possible
Your state (will register you, if needed, and) should mail you your absentee ballot.
STEP 2: return the absentee ballot
FYI, according to the VoteFromAbroad website (organized by Democrats Abroad), "You should use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if you have not received your pre-printed state ballot thirty days before the election. If you request your ballot less than sixty days before the election using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) but before the deadline, then you should send the FWAB and the FPCA at the same time." If you subsequently receive your regular absentee ballot, execute it and return it regardless of when you receive it.
Here's the FWAB: http://www.fvap.gov/...
And here's a list of the deadlines: http://www.democratsabroad.org/...
And just in case you have questions, here's the Frequently Asked Questions page on VoteFromAbroad.org http://www.votefromabroad.com/...