Here’s How to Vote From Abroad in the Upcoming US Election

By Ned Kelly, August 2, 2020

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It’s election year in the US, and the stakes seem to be rather high. Being overseas, it can be confusing to figure out how to register and vote, so we reached out to new Democrats Abroad China Chairperson Kimberly Wong to find out about their non-partisan Vote From Abroad campaign.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of That's.

How did your new Democrats Abroad China Chairperson role come about?
I got involved with Democrats Abroad China in 2015 because I wanted to do what I could to affect badly needed change in the United States. I was elected to the post of Secretary in 2019, and when the Chair and Vice Chair became unavailable earlier this year, they asked me if I would be interested in the Chairmanship. I hesitated because of the time commitment required, but the importance of the work during this critical election year convinced me that I should give it a shot. The leadership board agreed and in May I became the second DA China Chairperson ever.

What are your responsibilities?
Our biggest initiative is a non-partisan one called Vote From Abroad. We help American citizens living in China register to vote, request their ballots and return those ballots in a timely manner. DA China organizes voter registration events at bars and restaurants frequented by Americans, like Boxing Cat Brewery and Heritage by Madison in Shanghai and The Swan With Two Necks and The Local in Beijing. Right now we are looking for community organizers to help communities of Americans by answering questions about voting from China. There are about 6.5 million American citizens living abroad – that’s a larger population that 30 of the US states! – so our work has a potentially huge impact on federal elections.

What are the biggest challenges you face?
There are just too many to list, but here are the two big ones. First, many Americans do not know that they can vote from abroad. It’s oftentimes easy to tune out what’s going back at home if you are rooted abroad. And because different states have different rules, voting from abroad can be pretty tricky. 

For example, to request a ballot for an election in Florida, you have to send a ballot request form by mail, and that request will only by accepted if it arrives in an envelope of a specific size. There are many little ways some states use to try to disenfranchise voters.

The second challenge is a war against apathy. With all the sensational news we hear every day, it’s easy for people to turn off and believe that their vote doesn’t matter. Many Americans were upset at the result of the last presidential election, when Hillary Clinton lost even though more people voted for her than for the other guy, but the real tragedy was that 42.3% of eligible voters – about 100 million people – did not exercise their right to vote.

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With so many challenges facing the US, I would say that American politics are no longer a matter of one party versus another. It’s about saving lives and making changes that will reinstate our country as the land of opportunity and justice for all.

How easy is it to register to vote?
It literally takes just a couple of minutes using www.votefromabroad.org:

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To check on your state’s voting deadlines, visit www.votefromabroad.org/states:

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Why do you believe people should vote Democrat?
At this point, with so many challenges facing the US, I would say that American politics are no longer a matter of one party versus another. It’s about saving lives and making changes that will reinstate our country as the land of opportunity and justice for all. I would encourage Americans to vote for the candidates that they think will best support our ideals and serve the interests of the majority of citizens. We need to come together at this incredibly dark time in history.

What would you say we could expect from Joe Biden if he gets elected?
With Joe Biden as president, we know that we will have a person who cares about the majority of Americans and who can do the job. That is most emphatically what we do NOT have now, and the results have been catastrophic. A Biden presidency will help to reverse some of the damage the current administration has inflicted, and give the United States an opportunity to heal, and to make some of the progressive changes that will move the country in a positive direction, including in the areas of foreign policy and US-China relations.

And what would you say we could expect from four more years of Trump if he gets re-elected?
That’s not a question I’m going to even entertain! Instead I’ll remind all your readers that DA China will be running a voter registration training session on Zoom on August 4 at 8pm China Standard Time. SEE YOU THERE!

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Register to vote at www.votefromabroad.org, check on your state’s voting deadlines att www.votefromabroad.org/states. For more information or to get involved email visit www.democratsabroad.org/cnemail info-china@democratsabroad.org or add DA China on WeChat:

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[Cover image via Wiki]

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