From Athens, Georgia, to Athens, Greece - Democratic primary goes global

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 8 February 2008

It may have been Super Tuesday that caught the world's press attention this week, but today the U.S. Election preliminaries switch from Athens, Georgia to Athens, Greece. The Democratic Party are holding their first 'global' primary for ex-pats and U.S. citizens serving overseas, and voting in Greece starts today.

Although U.S. citizens can vote in the primary of the state they were last registered as resident in, some states have an electoral process, like the Iowa caucus, which requires the voter to be physically present. The global primary re-enfranchises those who couldn't get back to their old home state.

Democratic supporters had to register their intention to vote in the primary before the end of January by joining Democrats Abroad. In Athens there are voting booths open today and tomorrow, and the Democratic Party are also accepting votes by mail, fax and over the Internet.

What is interesting about that, of course, is that for the election proper, online voting has been investigated for ex-pat Americans and serviceman abroad, and dismissed as being unworkable.

Personally I have mixed feelings about ex-pats voting from abroad. I haven't voted in any elections, either national or local, in Greece or the UK, since I left the UK. The question of whether I would try and vote in the Greek General Election last year was somewhat answered by the fact that I was back in the UK working for the duration of the campaign.

I dread morphing into one of those ex-pat Brits who has nothing good to say about the UK, faithfully casting their vote back home, with all of their opinions based on what they read in the edition of the Daily Mail printed in Greece or Spain or online.

At least now that electoral science has proved that British elections are determined by the votes of n floating voters in x locations, I'm reassured that it can't affect the result too much.

That might not be the same for the Democratic party. Coming after an inconclusive set of results earlier this week, it may well be that the overseas voters will make more difference that originally intended.

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