Democrats living overseas will use online voting to cast ballots Feb. 5 in a global primary, a U.S. electoral first.
Democrats streaming to the polls for the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries won't be the only party members casting their votes. In nearly 100 other countries, Democrats living overseas will begin voting in a Feb. 5-12 global primary offering online voting for the first time.
Devised by Democrats Abroad, the official DNC (Democratic National Committee) arm for ex-pats, voters can also vote at polling stations around the world or by faxing their ballots in. Ex-pats wishing to vote online must obtain an identification number from Everyone Counts, the San Diego company conducting the online vote.
Heeding the complaints about traditional onsite voting on electronic machines, Everyone Counts allows online voters to print out a receipt to create a paper trail.
Republicans living abroad still must vote the old fashioned way: requesting voter registration paperwork from their states, early deadlines and unreliable foreign mail service to deliver ballots on time.
"In the past, overseas voting could be both complicated and cumbersome," Christine Schon Marques, International Chair of Democrats Abroad, said in a statement. "With the Internet, we can reach out to all our voters in every corner of the world."
In previous national elections, that outreach effort has been a limited success. In the 2006 midterm elections, almost 1 million absentee ballots were requested from overseas but only 330,000 were actually counted, according the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Of the ballots not counted, 70 percent were returned to election officials as undeliverable.
There are more than six million Americans living abroad.
"We've been working hard to make the process easier for voters around the world," Marques said. "Overseas votes are having a greater and greater impact on U.S. election results."
The overseas election results will determine the 14 delegates who will join eight DNC members in Democrats Abroad's delegation of 22 to the Democratic National Convention in Denver Aug. 25-28. The delegates will be elected at a combination of regional and global meetings held later this year.