Saturday, February 9, 2008

Super Tuesday in Bangkok

By Don Linder, Vice-Chair, DAT

Super Tuesday Democratic primary polling in Bangkok took place in a very different atmosphere from what you’d expect in say, New York, California, Alabama, or North Dakota. Democrats Abroad Thailand (DAT) organized polling for the first Global Democratic Primary at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm. The bar was open, as it always is from afternoon on, and although we’d asked the bartender to change the TV broadcast shown on the several flat screen TVs from Bloomberg to CNN, he switched to Al Jareeza TV, which featured substantial coverage of the primaries. Definitely not Kansas anymore.

The Democratic Global Primary gives a voice in the primary process to the millions of full-time American ex-patriates and many more American travelers. A voter who has registered with Democrats Abroad may choose to vote securely on-line or by paper ballot at a polling station. Voters in the global primary may not vote in their state primaries. Democrats Abroad will have a delegation of 22 voting delegates at the nominating convention in August, effectively making it the “51st State.”

There are 700 plus Americans registered with DAT, and by 6 pm, nearly 200 votes had been cast. Three other polling locations in Thailand – in Chiang Mai, Nongkhai, and Udorn Thani – serve ex-pats from around the country, as well from neighboring Laos and Burma.

The concerns of Americans living abroad often differ from those living in the States, as evidenced at DAT’s Issues Forum held last week at a local Starbucks. While an informal straw poll indicated that the Iraq war, the economy, and health care were top issues, the number one concern was America’s standing in the world/international relations – a grassroots issue for those who work, play, and go about their daily lives on foreign soil.

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