The year that I voted outside of the US
In 1982, I was working for a US company in Mexico. Therefore, I voted at the US Embassy in Mexico City.
It was a really neat experience and I found the process rather simple and organized. I remember that one of my Mexican colleagues was joking about how easy it was. He joked that it was easier for me to vote in a congressional election than it was for him to vote for president. My friend was exaggerating but Mexicans always love to punch their political class.
This year, many US citizens will cast their ballots on foreign soil. It is a lot more people than most realize, as we see in this from The Economist:
AROUND 30m Americans have already voted in the 2016 election. This includes military ballots and early voting. Yet it also includes a cohort that is poorly represented: overseas Americans. Where Virginians and Nevadans militate for their concerns in the capital, expatriate issues like double-taxation are largely mute. The government bizarrely doesn’t keep tabs on their numbers, but estimates range from 9m (the State Department) to 1m (the number of overseas tax filers, representing an estimated 2.1m people). The Federal Voter Assistance Program estimates 5.7m.
Taking 5.7m would make American expatriates the 21st largest state, giving it seven members of the House of Representatives—the same as Colorado, Alabama, and Minnesota. It would grant the bloc nine electoral college votes
In 1982, when I voted abroad, it was cast in my congressional district. I don’t recall if the ballot had the names of state officeholders and there was no US Senate race that year.
Nevertheless, these “expats” represent a very serious voting bloc. They are mostly US professionals and well educated. My impression back then is that they were very well informed about US issues and that was before the internet or cable TV. They were obviously well versed and read a lot. Our office used to get a subscription to the Baltimore newspaper (my employer was based there), The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. We also got all of the weekly magazines and enjoyed productive political talks like we were in the US.
Last, but not least, “expats” appreciate our orderly electoral system since they live in places where voting is rather chaotic.