by William Stupp


Americans hoping to unseat President Donald Trump have been watching prospective candidates for the Democratic Party nomination debate and campaign since last summer. In a series of primary elections which began last month, voters across the country are finally taking to the ballot box to vote for their preferred candidates. This month, Americans the world over were afforded the same privilege. From March 3rd to 10th, US citizens living abroad voted in the 2020 Democrats Abroad primary.

In addition to electronic voting, expats in the Netherlands were able to vote in-person in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. In proportion to their share of the vote, candidates will be awarded delegates who will in turn cast their votes at the Democratic National Convention in July. The winner will run against Trump in November.

When voting began in the Netherlands, seven candidates were seeking the nomination. By the time polls closed on the 10th, just three candidates remained: the frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, and long-shot hopeful Tulsi Gabbard.

Tara is from Colorado and has lived in the Netherlands for 15 years. A strong supporter of Sanders, casting her vote was nevertheless a hard decision. She worries that Bernie might struggle to defeat Trump in November. Despite this concern, she “went with her gut feeling” and cast her ballot for the senator from Vermont. Though she’s lived her whole adult life abroad, Tara follows elections closely and chose to show up at the primary rather than vote online. “It’s a nice way to stay connected as an expat”, the 30-something film producer says.

John, in his late-twenties, hails from Connecticut and moved to The Hague to work at a large bank just 9 months ago. He was caught up in a problem that befell many voters: his candidate dropped out by the time he was able to vote. He had been eager to vote for Elizabeth Warren but had to cast his ballot for his someone else. Still, he says he was happy to vote and that he got more out of the experience by showing up in person.

Expressing a sentiment shared by many, Caroline says she is not particularly inspired by any candidate and is most interested in getting Trump out of the White House. The 52-year-old from Indiana has lived in the Netherlands for 25 years and does not usually follow US politics (though she always votes in Dutch elections). Still, her distaste for Trump inspired her to vote this time. Asked why she made her way to the polling station rather than voting from home, Caroline laughs. “It’s a great excuse to come to the bookstore and look at some books”.

Tre’ Shawn Griffin-Noordermeer, the secretary of the Executive Committee for Democrats Abroad NL, understands why so many expats come out to vote. Trump, he says, is a divisive figure, and makes Americans yearn for a greater sense of community. Showing up to the poll offers that. Moreover, those who vote in-person get an ‘I Voted’ sticker, a prized talisman in American politics. “That’s the biggest thing,” he says with a smile.

The results of the Democrats Abroad primary election will be announced later this month.