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2014 Voter Registration and Midterm Elections


Voter Registration / Ballot Request - Online
Voter Registration / Ballot Request - Personal
Promotional material
Advertising and Publicity
Polls and Predictions
Conclusion and Thanks

Voter registration team members from American Voices Abroad (AVA) and Democrats Abroad - Berlin (DA) worked to Get Out The Vote (GOTV as they say) again and personally registered less than a hundred American expats in Berlin for the federal midterm elections, November 4th 2014. As most Americans in Berlin tend to be registered already, the primary message now was “Request your absentee ballot!

Voter Registration / Ballot Request - Online

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

Overseas Vote Foundation
is a non-partisan site. Good and easy database for finding and contacting your registration office. New is a Candidate Finder tool to help identify Congressional candidates for example.

is from the Democratic Party. A tool to help identify Congressional candidates can be found here as well.

Information is also available directly from the U.S. government's Federal Voting Assistance Program. The official Federal Post Card Application can be downloaded there directly.

In all cases, the application needed to be printed out, signed, and mailed to hometown election offices. The possibility to correspond by e-mail is becomming more common. That is, the registration/application can be scanned in once it's been signed and sent to the election office by e-mail as an attachment. The ballot itself can optionally be sent via e-mail to be printed out. This finally can 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 back in 2012.

Voter Registration / Ballot Request - Personal

Voter registration team members personally helped with registration or ballot requests at registration tables at various events around Berlin. We concentrated on places where we could expect a decent turn-out. With the exception of those run by Democrats Abroad, I organized the following locations. These were the “usual” ones again. No invitations to special venues this time around. The figures in the brackets are the number of American citizens we help apply for their ballots. Add a half dozen or so from my own circle of family and friends.

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

Also at the following stores:
Books in Berlin (about 10)
Flying Colors kite shop, ask for Michael Stelzer

Promotional material

We tried getting Americans interested in voting abroad by distributing flyers in American restaurants, stores, and other institutions. I didn't visit that many this year or that often. Sent them also by e-mail again 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:

Advertising and Publicity

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

Otherwise, there was practically no interest by the media, besides a link for the JFKS voter registration event for Exberliner’s online calendar.

Polls and Predictions

Click for was always a pretty accurate source to follow the tendencies.
RealClearPolitics is pretty good too.

Conclusion and Thanks

Well, the election resulted in the predicted swing to the Republicans, who gained some more seats in the House of Representatives and also won a majority in the Senate. Most surprising though was the low voter turnout: just 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots. Would a better turnout have been a benefit for the Democrats? Some experts (
RealClearPolitics) say that the turnout was low for the general population due to low approval ratings of congress and the President in particular. Seems no GOTV drive would help much.
At the expert panel discussion sponsored by NPR Radio about the results of the U.S. mid-term elections at the Deutsche Bank Atrium on Thursday, November 6th, which a number of us Democrats Abroad attended, my question to the panel was affirmed that people were simply overwhelmed by the massive advertising they were subjected to and simply tired of it. Former U.S. Congressman Glenn Nye added that all the negative advertising also turned off a lot of potential voters. By the way, I can be seen wearing a blue sweater in the bottom left of picture 7 of the slide show of the aforementioned web page.
So, I guess the measly results we had for registering voters here in Berlin did not (significantly) cause the Senate to turn red. In the past we had registered easily two or three times the amount. Nowadays though, voters are becoming less dependent on registering personally. Past experiences have pointed them to the web sites where they can apply for their ballot and I hope the distribution of flyers and the advertising have done their part too.

Thanks first of all to the members of the voter registration team who helped this year: Angela Lummel, Bill Downey, Kara Krull, and Cynthia Turczyn (see above where they helped).

Personally, I am happy that Michigan's open Senate seat was easily retained by Democrat Gary Peters. However Republican Rick Snyder was narrowly reelected as governor. In any case, I did get personal (well, they were addressed to me after all) thank-yous from several Democratic candidates:

And for the future...

We are now