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Voter Registration and the 2008 General Elections


Voter Registration
Election Night
Mme Tussards
Inaugural Ball

Voter Registration

Voter registration team members from American Voices Abroad (AVA) and Democrats Abroad - Berlin (DA), and other political groups personally registered close to a thousand American expats in and around Berlin for the United States General elections, November 4th 2008. The figures listed in the table below are in some instances estimated; in particular the greatest one of all, Obama's visit in July, but generally we kept a pretty accurate tally. The numbers are for persons who filled out application/registration forms for instance at registration tables with our help and also those who took them home for example for their spouses or children, that is pretty sure counts.

Voter Registration Log

LocationRegistered persons
My own private + others6
JFK School Alumni1
Registration Training 4
DA Kick-off at the Max und Moritz Restaurant Max und Moritz 4Pictures by Karen Axelrad
Black Movie Fest 5FESTIVAL IMPRESSIONS 2008, 23rd picture down
American Church in Berlin 4
JFK School Art Fair 16
American Church in Berlin Street fair 2
Berlin Brandenburg International Sschool Summer Fest 20
Berlin International School International Day 4
Exberliner Kaffee Burger 2
JFK School Graduation Rehearsal 5
"Amerikafest" U.S. Embassy opening.
Registration desk in "The Kennedys" museum
66Pictures by Karen Axelrad
More pictures:VR1, VR2
Bergmann Street Jazz Festival 16
Black & Hemmingway (ABBO) on Gendarmenmarkt? Mention by Deutsche Welle
Obama's speach at the Siegessäuleover 300Arik was there. Pictures by Karen Axelrad
German-American Volksfest 76Donald Black's post on Obama's Community Blog
Saint Georges Bookstore Movie Nights 34
DA Labor Day Picnic 21Pictures by Karen Axelrad
Leipzig debate 1
JFK School Info Fair 27
JFK Friendship Center Anniversary fair 13
JFK School Fun Day JFK school logo 39
American Citizen Fair at U.S. Embassy 21Pictures:VR1, VR2
DemsAbroad meetings 2
Books in Berlin Books in Berlin 24
Storytime Bookstore 3
Doretta's private contacts 20
Odeon Kino 2
White Trash Fast Food restaurant 48
Robin Hemingway / ABBO ? dozens
Donald Black 8
Lenore at an art event 18
Cortnie 27
Wertheim 2
Babylon Theater Presidential Countdown movie nights
Amerika Haus (incl. write-ins) initiative-amerika-haus 9"How will America vote" lecture series
Article in the TAZ mentions me. English version of this: WorldMeets.US
Pictures by Karen Axelrad
Totalwell over 860
I don't want to adorn myself with borrowed plums for the success of this campaign though. Voter registration initiatives were spun off by various individuals and directly initiated by the Democratic Party as well. Hilary Bown for instance was hired to cover a wide region of central Europe and Donald Black found many further venues along with Robin Hemingway and his Americans in Berlin-Brandenburg for Obama. Special thanks to Donald also for being the backbone at the German-American Volksfest with his hours on end serving there this summer. So, I haven't received reports from absolutely all private and public initiatives. However, it's fair to estimate that about a thousand persons were personally registered.

Thanks also to Dr. William E. Downey, Emily Sanford, Alexander von Engelhardt, Cody Nana, Wolfgang Pietsch, Michael Steltzer, Deborah Harding, Ibragim T., Ann Wertheimer, Pam Selwyn, Jane Hartmann, Kara Krull, Angela Lummel, Leonore Suttle, Stacy Closson, Alexander Zimmerman, Arik Komets, Gladys Cagle, Kitty Ruderman, Lissa Rosenbloom, Jennifer Cameron, Jacalyn Carley, Maigee Chang, Cynthia Turczyn, Susan Starling and her daughter, Doretta Dow, Deborah Freedberg, Elisabeth Zach, Robin Hemingway, plus any others who I haven't been able to keep track of or knew about. I know you've dedicated and spent countless hours sometimes bored when no one would stop at your table for an hour or sometimes getting hoarse when things get so hectic that you find yourself serving three people at once!

We also passed out countless 1/4 page-sized flyers (Full-sized sample flyer with reference to both following websites: VoteFlyer) at these and other events encouraging people to register at various locations or to go online to one of these two websites:

Overseas Vote Foundation
is a non-partisan site.
Candidates are listed here for the write-in ballots.
Good database for finding and contacting your registration office.

is from the Democratic Party.
Information was also available directly from the U.S. government's Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Flyers were of course distributed at monthly meetings of AVA and DA as well as among friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

Flyers were also send by e-mail for further distribution to various other local American(-related) organizations, including Auslandsämter of universities in Berlin and Brandenburg.

We also distributed flyers at 'American' restaurants and cafes, usually by placing them in the info-card racks. The flyers were frequently updated to announce planned registration sites.

An ad with the Overseas Vote Foundation link similar to the VoteFlyerAVA flyer was printed in the summer issue of the EXBERLINER. Their website also carried banners I created linking to each of the OVF and the Vote from Abroad registration websites respectively. These were page-viewed 6856 and 6315 times respectively and clicked on 179 and 178 times respectively.

And last-but-not-least, references to the one or other website were made in the e-mail signatures of team members as well as in newsletters sent by AVA and DA.

I have no way of knowing the success of these flyers, ads, and other publicity, but I recon there could be another thousand or even more persons who registered via the Internet.

In conclusion, I'd say the numbers were quite good. But how can we really know how many of the potentially ten-thousand American voters in Berlin we've reached? Learning how people intended to vote was no problem though. Without our asking, most people by themselves expressed their pro-democratic inclination. We can be proud therefore of our small, yet not insignificant contribution to the campaign.

Election Night Party

Click for We celebrated appropriately during the "WATCH the SUNRISE with US" Election Night Party held by the Democrats Abroad Berlin in the Babylon Theater.

Straw Poll

I held a straw poll at the party with the assistance of Yvonne Fazier and Anastasia Bain.

There were three things to vote on:
Vote for President and Vice-President: results for Obama and Biden

Predict that close swing states would vote Democratic (Missouri eventually went Republican)

Will the Democrats win 60 seats in the Senate?

The raw data is available here.

Mme Tussards

On January 15th, Barack Obama came to the
Mme Tussards wax museum on Unter den Linden - as a wax figure. Democrats Abroad was invited to attend the unveiling. I showed up there too with my campaign hat - a whole day late (had written the wrong date in my calendar). However, Yvonne Frazier and Nancy Green seemed to have enjoyed themselves as can seen in a video clip from Morgenpost.

Inaugrual Ball

As a final climax for the presidential election, we celebrated Obama’s inauguration with a ball in the
Goya club on Nollendorfplatz organized by Corbet Santana from the Black Box. Several of us were there early in the morning to start blowing up balloons. Guests were admitted after 4 in the afternoon then so that there must have been up to 1500 people inside by 6 pm (several were still outside, because the reservations were processed so slowly unfortunately) for possibly the largest inauguration ball outside the USA. With great anticipation we followed the inauguration on the big screen. We chucked at that oath blooper and cheered when it was completed. Everyone paid attention when Obama gave his speech and applauded at the most impressive passages. The Americans sang along the national anthem and finally we waved good-bye and good riddance as President Bush flew away.

Then speeches were held on stage by representatives from the US embassy, American Voices Abroad (Isabelle Cole), The Kennedy Museum, and Republicans Abroad. Nancy Green read the speech prepared by DA chairman Michael Steltzer, who unfortunately was too ill to attend; after all he had put in to organizing tonight’s spectacle. I was based at the small Democrats Abroad info table, where I was wearing a Voter Registration name tag and was selling T-shirts, buttons and stickers, and distributing voting info from Obama for Americans abroad. Denise, Hilary, as well as my daughter Ruth also took turns at the table. There were also info tables from the American Voices Abroad and The Kennedy Museum.

One highlight for all of us volunteers at ball was the great balloon drop. We had filled the red, white and blue balloons into two long nets lashed to the top floor railing. At the appointed time, just as the band started up for the actual dancing party, we lifted the opened net over the balustrade to release the balloons onto all the surprised guests below.

For the rest of the evening we danced to Folkadelic and a DJ later in the night. Meanwhile several of us were interviewed by the press. Here are some of the best press reports:

Looking forward to an epochal Obama presidency!