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2012 Voter Registration and General Elections


Voter Registration - Online
Voter Registration - Personal
Voter Registration - Advertising and Publicity
Polls and Predictions
Election Night Party
Thanks from President Barack Obama
Inauguration Party

Voter registration team members from American Voices Abroad (AVA) and Democrats Abroad - Berlin (DA), and other political groups personally registered over a hundred American expats in Berlin for the United States General elections, November 6th 2012.

Voter Registration - Online

Voters could fill out an online-assisted registration and application for an absentee ballot at one of these two websites:

Overseas Vote Foundation
is a non-partisan site.
Good database for finding and contacting your registration office.

is from the Democratic Party.
Information was/is also available directly from the U.S. government's
Federal Voting Assistance Program. The application form can be downloaded there directly. In all cases, the application needed to be printed out, signed, and mailed to your hometown resistration office.

New this year was the possibility to correspond by e-mail. That is the registration/application could be scanned in once it's been signed and sent to the resistration office by e-mail as an attachment. The ballot itself could also be sent to you to be printed out. This finally could be scanned in again and sent back along with a signed voter declaration. My daughter Ruth for instance had the ballot for Filer City in Manistee County, Michigan sent to her. She filled it out and we mailed all our ballots (got mine by regular mail) back to Michigan together on time in a big envelope by normal mail.

Voter Registration - Personal

Voter registration team members personally helped to register voters at registration tables at various events around Berlin. My thanks goes first of all to Andrea Lange who helped the most frequently and also to the following people who helped at least once or twice: Cody Nada, Angela Lummel, Mandi Larsen, Bill Downey, Lissa Rosenbloom, Donald Black, Elizabeth Zach, Cynthia Turczyn, and George Kamp
We concentrated on places where we could expect a decent turn-out. Didn't bother with places where we'd be sitting around for hours on end to sign up only one or two persons if any. No need to try scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Actually, as the years go by, I've noticed that many or more people have already registered when we asked them if they have requested their absentee ballot. Seems like the online method is becoming more self-perpetuating and standard.
Here is where we were:
I also registered 6 people at AVA meetings, 2 at DA meetings, 2 at a BBIS staff party, 3 otherwise at church, and my own family. Kara Krull and Cynthia reported otherwise registering a half-dozen people at JFK school. Other members reported advising potential voters or passing out the flyers to them for online-assisted registration/voting.

Voter registration and consultation was also possible at the monthly meetings of
American Voices Abroad (AVA) and Democrats Abroad - Berlin (DA).

Also at the following bookstores:
Books in Berlin
Saint Georges Bookstore

Promotional material

We got Americans interested in voting abroad by distributing flyers in American restaurants, stores, and other institutions. Sent them also by e-mail to the foreign-student offices of regional universities where Americans might be enrolled.

Downloadable flyers with some of the above information in various formats and promoting the different websites:

Voter Registration - Advertising and Publicity

AVA paid for an ad in the
EXBERLINER magazine's July/August and September issues:

The October issue also had an article about voting absentee for which they had also interviewed me: “Hope is irrational” and the corresponting advice article “Voting in Berlin”. See also the respective comments I added to both for some clarifications and corrections.

radioeins-Reportage on Fr. 19.10. Stimmen sammeln vor der US-Wahl - I can be heard about 1:30 minutes into the audio.

Reuters article by Erik Kirschbaum, 28 Oct. 2012, for which I was interviewed.
Original English version: “Close race makes up for waning zeal in US expat vote” (minor error in it: I’m identified as a teacher, not a translator)
Appeared around the world in for example (if no title is given, then it is identical to Reuter’s):

Polls and Predictions

Click for was always a pretty good source to follow the tendencies. It's accuracy at the end was second to none. RealClearPolitics was pretty good too. I was always certain about Obama's reelection. But only if everyone got out there and voted!

Election Night Party

I spent the election night participating in the Democrats Abroad election night party in the Babylon Theater on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin Mitte. As a member of the technical crew that was responsible for bringing the show onto the theater’s screens, I managed the selection of Internet pages (e.g. and live streams, taped videos, images as well as satellite TV feeds. Florian and John were operating the four computers, Eva was advising on her video (for example Obama Era in Berlin) and image selections, engineer Sacha hit the switches to beam our selections onto the screens, and technical director Kai also kept radio contact with the MCs and announcers on stage. We worked together making decisions and covering for each other.

We had some technical difficulties and limitations we had to work around. Primarily, we weren't able to get CNN by satellite and the theater’s Internet bandwidth wasn’t able to provide us with the CNN live feed, or otherwise the CNN Internet signal maybe was just overloaded worldwide tonight. We were however able to project CNN result maps from the Internet and we showed mostly BBC from the satellite along with CSpan live streams. Needless to say, there was disappointment in the audience, but we were able to put together a continuous and interesting variety from various sources (I even got a couple of my own cartoons beamed briefly). We were able to establish a Skype connection to Michael Stelzer in Michigan and wanted to interview him on the voting situation there, but it seemed the connection wasn’t stable enough for a period of time to risk beaming it on stage.

The auditorium was decorated with two large balloon garland. On stage, throughout the night, we had speeches from visiting Democrats, the band playing, and Corbett and Amanda making announcements. Some presenters, e.g. Akram Baker, lounging on stage also kept an eye on their laptops and would make special announcements as the results came in. This livened up the show and provided for exciting interaction with us up in the control booth. As they were announcing a state’s latest result we would have the CNN map up quickly and then move the mouse to and click on the corresponding state, which hopefully was up-to-date with the announcer’s information.

There were close to 700 visitors, I was told by the theater’s staff. Some people had to wait that didn’t get their tickets ahead of time. But with no-shows and earlier people leaving, everyone eventually got in; not like last time when the theater was past capacity. Everyone was given a scorecard showing when which state closed its polls and how likely they would fall to which candidate. It seemed the most interesting swing states could provide results early, but the wait turned out to be long after all.

DA Facebook pictures of the party

Catering was provided and several journalists and TV crews were milling about as well. I was picked out once – when I was on a rare trip down from the control booth – to explain that scorecard to someone filming for a “Morgenmagazin” program. I have no idea if it ever was broadcast, but some friends say they did see me a bit somewhere on some TV show during the night.

The most important swing states were constantly too close to call, even after the west coast states fell predictably into place. At five in the morning then, the minimum electoral votes were within reach and it was just a question of which state would have the honor of being called the tipping state. That was Ohio finally at just past quarter past five. A great round of applause when up, people were in each other’s arms – what a relief! I was quite certain Obama was going to win all along, but there is nothing like the official announcement to spark the jubilation. We were waiting then for Romney’s concession speech to be followed by Obama’s victory speech to close out the night. Romney, however, took his time (they say he actually thought he may win), so we simply let the BBC show run as we started packing up the computer system. The rest of the crew and staff in the theater also started cleaning up. According to news reports, our party ran the longest compared to the other big election night parties in Berlin, which were by invitation only too. Of course, we had the greatest cheers when the election was won.

A quarter to six, the TV beamer was switched off and things petered out. I went home, slept for four hours knowing I could sleep peacefully during the next four more years, and then went to work in the afternoon.

The election night party as reported by the press

Thanks from President Barack Obama

In conclusion, I thank everyone who helped with this year's Get Out The Vote campaign. I think we did a good enough job here in Berlin. Even President Obama thinks so and sent an e-mail I received on November 7th:

Alan --
I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.
I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen.
You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.
I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.
But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.
Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.
There's a lot more work to do.
But for right now: Thank you.

Watch President Obama addressing and thanking his campaing staff, which I assume includes us:

Glad to have worked for you, Mr. President!

Link to election summary in German: Wahlrecht

Inauguration Party

To finalize the effort, the Democrats Abroad (along with American Voices Abroad Berlin, Republicans Abroad Berlin, Museum The Kennedys, and Special Thanks to the US Embassy) held an inauguration party organized by Corbett Santana in the Chamälion Theatre in the Hackische Höfe on Monday evening, January 21st 2013, which was also Martin Luther King Day. I provided a Stars-and-Stripes, which was draped over the entrance door to show guests where the party was. Over a hundred people showed up (more would have been nicer) to watch the inauguration together on a large screen. We got a good video feed this time from CNN. That was then followed by speeches by Nancy Green (Democrats Abroad) and Ann Wertheimer (American Voices Abroad) (video), and then live music (for performer's list see Corbett Santana's Facebook entry, see above).

NPR was there too for interviews and photos. Read about it in: "Berliners Celebrate President Obama's Inauguration In Mitte"

Karen Axelrad was taking many photos. Such as this one of me and Gritt at the ticket counter:

Photos also on the Democrats Abroad Germany - Berlin Facebook page

rbb television was there to film us. There was a brief mention in the first news block of the late evening Abendschau that evening. Unfortunately it's no longer online in the "Abendschau" archive. Our party was shown in just the first 5 seconds, the rest wasjust a copy of what CNN was sending from Washington.

And in conclusion, President Obama sent me an e-mail as well:
Alan --
I just renewed my oath of office to serve as your president for four more years.
Thank you for making this possible. It's an honor to be your president.
Now it's time to finish what we started -- let's get going.