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US Voter Turnout and Americans Abroad

by Steve Stine

This is Steve Stine from Inside Asia. Just 45 days from today Americans will go to the polls and cast a vote for the next president of the United States. By all counts, this is proving one of the most essential electoral decisions in modern US history. The outcome will fundamentally change the course of America and the reverberations will be felt throughout the world. 

As Inside Asia listeners, I’m asking one of two things of you: If you’re an American living abroad, please register and vote. If you’re not a US citizen, reach out to your American friends and colleagues and ask them if they plan to vote. If they say “no” or “not sure,” please share with them the following.

According to a 2018 Pew Research survey, only 55.7 percent of eligible US voters are registered to vote. By world standards, that’s shockingly low. Among the 32 OECD countries that support free and open elections, the US ranks 26th in terms of voter turnout.

Rather than explore any number of socio-political reasons as to why this might be the case, let’s focus on what’s at stake. As a nation, the US – for better or for worse – has imprinted its political, cultural and economic DNA on the world. It’s shaped our current brand of global Capitalism by virtue of its strength, money, and ingenuity. Whether we like it or not, a half-century of US foreign policy has imposed itself on the current world order. Some might disagree, but I’d say the results are mixed at best. Economically, many might be better off today than they were decades ago, but social, political, and environmental strife persist, unabated.

As Inside Asia listeners are well aware, the geopolitical balance is shifting. It’s a frustrating moment for a superpower in the throes of change and whether you agree with US leadership efforts or not, it’s impacting the way the world sees the country. While the days of US hegemony are fading, there’s still an important role to be played by a nation that’s left such an indelible imprint. It is, therefore, the responsibility – if not the obligation – of every American – at home and abroad – to exercise his or her inalienable right to vote.

This is not a partisan plea. But rather a call to participate in mapping a future for a country at the crossroads.

To my fellow American expats and to all those who support a role for America in the world, please don’t miss this chance to leave your mark on history. It’s not too late. Registering and voting from abroad is simple. Not sure how? Here’s a message from votefromabroad.org.

For more information, visit www.votefromabroad.org. And as always, we thank you for listening.