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2016 Voter Registration and General Elections


Voter Registration / Ballot Request – Online
Voter Registration / Ballot Request – Personal
Promotional Material and Publicity
Polls and Predictions
Election Night
Election Results

It was time to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) again! This time for the General Elections on November 8th. My Dad, Art Benson, had said this would be the craziest election he can remember and he is over eighty years old!

With my direct involvement, voter registration team members from American Voices Abroad (AVA) and Democrats Abroad - Berlin (DA) personally registered over a hundred seventy American expats in Berlin. As most Americans in Berlin tend to be registered already, the primary message now was to “Request your absentee ballot!

My involvement actually began this time around already back in March 2015 at the Democrats Abroad Germany annual meeting in Wiesbaden where I was elected At-Large Coordinator for GOTV basically due to my experiences with getting out the vote in Berlin during past voting cycles.

So far in that capacity, I held a talk at this year's general meeting held in Schlatern on the subject and have had promotional material printed and distributed to the chapter chairs at the meeting. Some other ideas for mass media were also in the works. Additionally Democats Abroad International has recruited me to field questions via e-mail on voter registration. My summary of that task as GOTV coordinator in Germany can be read in a Report here.

Participated in the DA Global Convention in May. I ran as a delegate for Hillary Clinton. Didn't have much of a chance as only one man and one woman were to be elected to represent Democrats from Europe/MiddleEast/Africa. But did advance a couple rounds in the run-off.

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. There 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. Application for membership is an option.

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 needs 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.

Voter Registration / Ballot Request - Personal

Voter registration team members personally helped with registration or ballot requests at registration tables at various events around Berlin. I organized, participated in, or knew about the following events:

6 March – Democrats Abroad Presidential Global Primary, Pictures in the ICD Berlin (I helped count the ballots afterwards. The Berlin results of 80:20 in Sander's favor over Clinton can be seen in this picture.)
1 May – Organized and staffed by the Berlin4Bernie group: MyFest street festival
13 May – Opening of the 31st Black International Cinema Berlin
4 June – Summer Fest at the Berlin Brandenburg International School in Kleinmachnow
18 June – AVA booth at the Social Democrats Sommerfest Steglitz-Zehlendorf at Rathaus Zehlendorf, here with Ann Wertheimer
26 June – Flohmarkt im Mauerpark (organized by DA) 9 am to 6 pm on Bernauer Strasse, Berlin-Mitte
3 July – Democrats Abroad Independence Day party, picnic on the Tempelhofer Feld, here with Cody Nanda
10 July – American Community Chapel, organized by Donna Diaz from Democrats Abroad
16-17 July – Democrats Abroad Berlin set up a booth table at the Lesbian and Gay City Festival near Nollendorf Platz
10 July – Hillary Clinton Fund Raiser at the Domäne Dahlem
27 August – KulturGut "Triple-A" Art Show in the American Church in Berlin
7 September – Info-Fair at John F Kennedy School, in Zehlendorf
17 September – FunDay at John F Kennedy School
23 September – Providing my own voter registration information at the Avaaz anti-Trump protest event at the Brandenburg Gate
1 October – Fundraiser Concert for Hillary Clinton by John Shreve and friends, Brauhaus Südstern
8 October – Festival of Nations at the Nelson Mandela School in Wilmersdorf
10 October – EXBlicks US Election Warm-Up Party with screening of the new film project Rebirth of a Nation in the Lichtblick Kino
13 October – Debate and panel discussion How should progressives vote? by the Progressive Democrats Abroad in the Karl-Liebknecht Haus
and continuing 17 June 2017A booth at the Street Fair of the American Church in Berlin
So thanks once more to the GOTV volunteers: Donna Diaz, Gladys Cage, Cody Nada, Michael Lee, Adam Wilkins, and Ann Wertheimer

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

Promotional Material and Publicity

We tried to get Americans interested in voting abroad by distributing flyers in American restaurants, stores, and other institutions, such as Shakespeare and Sons, St George’s Bookstore, Another Country, English Bookstore, Uncle Sam’s Diner, and the English Theatre. Will send them also by e-mail again to the foreign-student offices of universities where Americans might be enrolled.
Downloadable flyers with some of the above information in various formats and promoting the different websites:

I even skated for Hillary at the Berlin skating Marathon wearing a Hillary logo T-shirt on the 24th of September (non-finisher unfortunately, but they did give me a medal anyway).

Supported the campaign also with some letters to the editor and interviews:

Polls and Predictions

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

Election Night

Began the Democrats Aborad Berlin election night party on Tuesday, November 8, with a lot of optimism.
Met with Hillary Clinton and Ruthy:

Provided some stand-up comedy:

Read the script here of the Obama Merkel phone call.

And finally, took my turn at the registration desk.

Note the Yes We Cans, which I've made, in the right corner of the picture.

Election Results

After leaving the election party not too late, I went to bed sure that I would happily hear about Hillary Clinton winning the election on the radio news in the morning. When they anounced then at 6 a.m. that things were looking bad, I called up the local station rbb and said not to worry, just wait until the results from the West Coast come in, which are sure to be for Clinton. They actually broadcast their taped conversation with me with just a few minutes delay. Too late, I realized those results were already in! Fortunately, no one I new told me they heard me on the radio.

Like most good Democrats, I was near tears all day. It hit me worst when Clinton conceded and especially when the popular vote count was announced with Clintons's advantage. Sadness also overcame me thinking of what my fellow Americans would be going through the next four years. And the circus Trump will be providing us with.

Many have provided analysis. There are numerous reasons for this result. Did I do enough for voter registration in Berlin? I'm sure I did. It's not my fault. As in the past election cycles, at least 9 out of 10 people I registered I was certain would vote democratic.

Anyway, after a good deal of observation, listening, and my own thoughts, I have come up with my own compilation of reasons, which can be read on this Analisys page. The main underlining factor is decadence.

So, now we have the Trump Presidency. It seems there is no let-up of the campaigning rhetoric from all sides. I see however that there is a possibility that Trump will not complete his term. The main reasons for this I've written up in this Prediction.

We'll see how this will lead into the next federal mid-term and presidential elections in 2018 and 2020 respectively. At the Democrats Abroad Evening with Robby Mook & Governor Martin O’Malley Fundraiser on March 12th 2017 (pictures here), I told Govenor O’Malley that I hoped I could vote for him in the 2020 presidential elections. He simply smiled in appreciation.

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