Thousands use Dutch site to register for US poll
3 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Some 650,000 American expats have used a Dutch-based website to help them register to vote in the US elections in November, it was revealed Friday.
3 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Some 650,000 American expats have used a Dutch-based website to help them register to vote in the US elections in November, it was revealed Friday.
Started by two American expats living in Amsterdam, the website TellAnAmericanToVote.com allows anyone to send a message, with the required forms and instructions for overseas voting attached, to American friends and colleagues.
The co-creator of the website, Claire Taylor, also said on Friday that the call to vote has hit a chord among expat voters. Taylor said interest was high, particularly in light of the 2000 election — the closest vote in US history — in which just 537 votes decided the Florida poll and victory of George Bush.
There are at least six million Americans living abroad and Taylor said that the foreign vote was vitally important. Some estimates put the number of US expats at 7.1 million.
"It was too close to call (in 2000). Therefore, everyone now knows a vote actually makes a difference," she said.
There are about 21,000 American expats living in the Netherlands and Taylor said they must first register before being allowed to vote. They will then be sent absentee ballot papers, but time is running out.
Meanwhile, the American political parties are also focusing on getting people to register to vote. "That is getting more attention than a party's political campaign," Steve Weiss of Republicans Abroad Netherlands said.
Weiss was recently appointed the group's chief and said the Republican Party was unrepresented in the Netherlands for a long time.
"It is difficult to find people willing to do it. But the battle is now so fierce that I put myself forward. Americans must register now. Right now. It would be nice if they would vote for (President George) Bush," he said.
Democrats Abroad Netherlands official Donna DuCarme pointed out that the Republicans in the Netherlands are on good terms with the Democrats, explaining that she was about to telephone them to see how both groups were doing in getting expats to register to vote.
She has also focused her campaign on registration information and is not so deeply involved in party politics.
Democrats Abroad have for some months been holding special events in American book stores in large cities around Europe to help register US expats to vote.
DuCarme said many Americans don't know which state they last lived in and this is important, because that is where they must lodge their vote.
Meanwhile, Weiss said he will try to organise a debate with the Democrat counterpart. Regardless, he said he is convinced that President Bush will be returned to the white House for another four-year term.
But DuCarme thinks exactly the opposite, placing full confidence in Democrat candidate John Kerry. "I can not even think about what will happen if Bush wins. I really can't. And that won't happen either," she said.
[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news