New voting system for US Democrats living in HK
by Liz Heron
Supporters of America's Democratic Party living in Hong Kong will be able to help choose their presidential candidate through a new global primary election.
Democrats Abroad, the party's overseas wing, has switched from a worldwide caucus system to a single primary ballot for the presidential campaign, which kicked off in the state of Iowa on Thursday, with Barack Obama winning the Democrat caucus and Mike Huckabee the Republican one.
The ballots at the Irish pub, on February 5 and 12, will be held from 6pm to 9pm, while the Flying Pan vote will be held from 4pm to 6pm on February 10.
Democratic Party members living outside the
for the first time this year at the website set up by Democrats Abroad.
The group - which operates in about 80 countries and will elect 22 delegates to the party's national convention in August in Denver, Colorado - has been holding caucuses for expatriate members, in which supporters of different presidential candidates debate and bargain over votes, since 1992.
There is no parallel system for Republican Party expats, but Republicans Abroad, the support group for members outside the
Glenn Berkey, chair of Democrats Abroad Hong Kong, said the new single-ballot and internet voting systems aimed to provide greater flexibility for Americans outside the
"Democrats need to use their heads and follow their hearts on this one," he said. "But in most cases a Democrat's vote is mathematically more powerful with Democrats Abroad than it is in his or her home state.
"However, an American whose state has an early primary or caucus might feel that his or her vote is more powerful there since the primary system is set up so that early results have a momentum effect and tend to carry more weight than later ones."
The overseas primary gives those who vote in it a larger influence in terms of allocating delegates per voter than they would have if they voted in their state primaries.