by Alexander Gonzalez (International Affairs sophomore)
In May 2015, I watched as an old man hunched over a small podium at a small park with a small number of reporters in attendance answered a call that millions of people desperately needed and waited for. The message given was so powerful that it persuaded me to follow him out of the frying pan and into the fire and enlisted me to work for my first presidential campaign. From Japan, I did my part with the help of Democrats Abroad and an upcoming Global Presidential Primary.
My journey from casual voter to pledged delegate at-large for Bernie Sanders took me through the entire election process from beginning until now where we still anticipate the highly volatile election season of 2016. The election process is difficult even for Americans to understand but I will break it down simply.
Our election cycle is said to begin quite early; it can start as soon as one and half to two years before the election with the announcement of candidates. From February to June, all states and territories participate in a primary process in a predetermined order. The results of these primaries will determine the amount of delegates each candidate receives. You may have remembered American students at TUJ racing over to Mita Hall back in February. They were on their way to vote in Democrats Abroad’s Global Presidential Primary. The result ended in 70% of the votes going to Bernie and 30% going to Hillary and as a result Bernie received nine delegates and Hillary received four for Democrats Abroad. Each state has varying numbers of delegates depending on voter participation and other factors. I had the opportunity to go to the convention as a delegate for Bernie representing the Asia-Pacific region of Democrats Abroad.
The Democratic National Convention took place over four days in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the second day the delegates cast their vote for the delegate they pledged to, and of course I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders. It was an amazing opportunity meeting many members of Congress, members of the Obama Administration and meeting Bernie Sanders himself. My understanding of American politics and the election process grew immensely. Learning about my local community mattered just as much as paying attention to national politics. At the convention there is also ample opportunity to meet with other delegates and members of different caucuses, groups of people with shared political interests, to discuss the issues in America.
The results of the convention were not surprising as Hillary won the nomination after Bernie Sanders called for a vote by acclamation, which means he gave up all his votes and conceded to the nomination to Hillary. Now, as the general election nears, the race to the White House will intensify. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will continue to face each other off along with a few other third party candidates. With about 30 days to go, on November 8th, America will go to the polls again to determine our next president. Similar to the process of the primary is the concept of the electoral college which formally casts votes for the presidency based on the outcome of the voting districts in the United States. The first candidate to receive 270 votes will become the president-elect of the United States. Should neither candidate achieve this number then it will go to Congress for a vote.
Time is running out to register for many states which have deadlines for voter registration and requesting a ballot. There are a few resources for Americans to register as quickly as possible: http://www.votefromabroad.org is one great resource along with http://www.fvap.gov being the official resource provided to American citizens abroad by the U.S. government. For my American ex-patriots, please get out there and request your ballot! For everyone else, sit back and enjoy the crazy ride that is the American election!
Thank you very much!