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Democrats Abroad facilitates voting in the 2020 U.S. Elections McMaster’s Democrats Abroad chapter allows American students to vote in the 2020 U.S. Elections

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Photo by Hannah Walters-Vida / Editor-in-Chief 

By Donna Nadeem, Staff Writer

American students studying at McMaster were given the opportunity to vote in the 2020 United States Democratic Party presidential primaries on March 5, 2020. McMaster’s chapter of Democrats Abroad facilitated voting, which took place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the third floor of the McMaster University Student Centre. Democrats Abroad is an organization that gives Americans who live outside the U.S. a chance to vote in U.S. elections. 

On March 5, voters only needed to type in their information on their computer and, after receiving their ballot, they should follow the instructions and return the ballot before the deadline.

On March 5, voters only needed to type in their information on their computer and, after receiving their ballot, they should follow the instructions and return the ballot before the deadline.

It is estimated that 3 million Americans of voting age live overseas but only around 10,965 abroad ballots were cast in the 2016 U.S. General Election. The more votes submitted through Democrats Abroad, the greater representation they have within the Democratic National Committee. While Canada has the highest number of U.S. citizens of voting age, many McMaster students do not know about the Democrats Abroad primary. The number of people who voted through Democrats Abroad remains low.

David Mivasair, the Chair of Democrats Abroad for the Hamilton-Burlington-Niagara region, had initially decided to approach McMaster after learning of a large number of Americans that attend the university. The question Mivasair was faced with was how to reach these American students.

At Clubsfest last year, Mivasair came to McMaster to introduce a new chapter of Democrats Abroad. Around 60 students signed up for Democrats Abroad at Clubsfest, and from that list, the club was formed, executives were instated and the club was officially opened up to general members.

Aside from the voting centres, the McMaster chapter of Democrats Abroad intends on holding on-campus celebrations for American holidays such as American Thanksgiving or Fourth of July. They also wish to initiate a speaker series or present lectures discussing relevant issues in American politics. 

In this way, the McMaster Chapter of Democrats Abroad also functions as a social club, providing a space for American students at McMaster to come together. There are branches of Democrats Abroad at other Canadian universities including McGill, U of T, and UBC. 

“We are a social club for Americans, Canadians and international students to congregate, get together and discuss American issues that affect the whole world,” said Kareem Khaled, the President of the McMaster chapter of Democrats Abroad.

“We are a social club for Americans, Canadians and international students to congregate, get together and discuss American issues that affect the whole world,” said Kareem Khaled, the President of the McMaster chapter of Democrats Abroad.

The McMaster chapter of Democrats Abroad has not been ratified by the McMaster Students Union. The club attempted to get permission for the 2019-2020 school year, but were unsuccessful as the MSU believed that the club would only be relevant for the 2020 election year.  

Democrats Abroad’s McMaster chapter emphasizes the importance of voting in upcoming elections. Regardless of whether students may be embarrassed by the state of U.S. politics or whether they believe dissociation is the right response, Khaled believes that student engagement is important. 

“Their votes get their word out there because that’s how you get a government that represents the people,” said Khaled. 

“You need everybody from different backgrounds [and with] different ideas to be involved in the political process, and we’re hoping to be a channel to engage the [American] people and all other [non-American] people in the world to be more involved in their country’s political processes, because they affect us,” said Khaled.

 

 

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