By Elizabeth Kelly
Here’s why we’re launching a voting champion program and why you should join.
My mother was the registrar of voters in the town where I grew up, so voting has always been part of what I do. Moving overseas was not going to stop me from voting. However, when I got overseas, I was surprised to learn of the relatively low voter turnout among the roughly 6.5 million eligible U.S. voters living abroad. Turnout among these voters grew by 322% in 2018 compared to the previous midterm election in 2014, but it’s still much lower than among domestic voters.
I decided to volunteer to help U.S. citizens to vote through VotefromAbroad.org. What I learned by volunteering was eye-opening. Many US citizens abroad don’t even know that they are entitled to vote. Others may think they have a right to vote but don’t know how to vote. While not quite the same as voting back in the USA, VotefromAbroad.org makes the process a lot easier. As a volunteer, I felt great about helping fellow Americans get the right information and vote like they always wanted to. I started to ask people, particularly those who were especially grateful to be helped, to tell three friends how to do it.
Research shows that helping our friends vote is one of the most powerful tools to increase turnout. People are most likely to change their behavior when they are asked to do something by people they know. If you vote and if you ask people to vote too, you are demonstrating the importance of voting. By being a voter, you can inspire others to overcome barriers to voting and in turn influence people in their networks. You might think that everyone in your circles already votes, but you also never know what questions they may have but are afraid to ask or are deterred from asking.
Reflecting on the research, this kernel of an idea to “tell three friends” began to germinate. How could we leverage the power of this simple act? With the answer to that question, the Vote from Abroad Voting Champion program was born.
The program involves three key steps:
The first step is to commit to help increase overseas voter turnout to help our democracy. Our democracy is stronger when more people participate. By committing, you are agreeing to be the change you want to see. A lot of overseas US citizens may feel that their vote doesn’t count, that one vote can’t make a difference. But it does and it can. By voting and declaring that you think it’s important, you can inspire voting across the country.
The next step is to educate your network to dispel the common myths about voting from abroad. By doing so, you can ensure your network has the facts and figures they need to be motivated to vote because it can make a difference if we increase turnout.
The final step is to engage your network through direct communications and activities to make sure that they and their network of overseas voters know what to do at every stage of the overseas voting process, from requesting their ballot, to mailing the completed ballot back to the USA.
The amazing thing about a program like this is it is infectious in a positive way. If 3 people in your network commit to be Voting Champions and they each successfully recruit 3 people in their networks to be Voting Champions, you only need to repeat that 5 times to reach 243 people. If we start with 1,000 Voting Champions who each recruit 3 Voting Champions who then each recruit 3, we will reach a quarter of a million in just 5 cycles. With an army of voting promoters all across the globe, there’s no stopping the revolution in voter turnout we could see in November and the positive change for our democracy that full voter participation engenders.
Interested in being the change you want to see? Watch this space for details in the coming days about becoming a Vote from Abroad Voting Champion launching on the 4th of July!
Photo by Trent Yarnell on Unsplash
Vote from Abroad
Vote from Abroad has one goal: to make sure every U.S. citizen has the info and tools to vote. Request a ballot now! votefromabroad.org
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Reprinted with permission from Medium. https://medium.com/@votefromabroad/3-simple-steps-to-get-more-americans-abroad-to-vote-cf661e87ff1b
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