Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Democratic Global Primary

A few weeks ago I registered to vote in the first ever Democratic online global primary, which began today.

I received the following email yesterday in my inbox;

Dear Stuart,

Thank you for choosing to participate in Democrats Abroad's historic online Global Presidential Primary. Here's what you need to know to cast your vote.

Go to www.xxxx
Your Ballot Number: xxxx
Your Personal Identification Number (PIN): xxxx

Additional information will be requested to authenticate your identity.

You can log in and vote anytime between Tuesday, February 5 at GMT+13 and Tuesday, February 12 at GMT-10.

You will be asked to print a copy of your ballot before you logout. We encourage you to do so.

First, I share this with you because it is historical, well, sort of. In 2000, "the Arizona Democratic Party turned its primary into the nation's first legally binding online election."

I'm not sure how online voting could be handled in a general election, or if it would even be desirable. However, this is definitely a step forward for the Democratic Party. This is after all only a vote within the party by party members. Democrats Abroad is a closed primary.

It was satisfying to cast a vote for my candidate, who despite suspending his campaign, remains on the ballot. I was also happy that I didn't have to take the train to CPH.

While online voting may not be a practical solution in general elections, the Democratic Party's efforts to broaden participation in the democratic process are commendable. The party has also recently launched the new Democrats Abroad website which contains powerful online social networking and communications tools. The National Party website by comparison, has not been updated and remains woefully stuck in 1999.

Thinking about future party elections, I'd like to see the party adopt IRV for the 2012 primaries. Then, perhaps some of the "little guys" (or gals) might have a chance of representing the Party in a general election. IRV won't be an election issue this year. But the Youtubes are screaming and the political establishment is taking notice.

[UPADATE: Feb. 6, 17:49] Record Democratic turnout continues to be one of the major stories of 2008. The global primary following the same trend, Americans literally crawling out of the woodwork to vote overseas. It seems Arizona is the only primary thus far in which Republican turnout was higher than Democratic turnout. In Massachusetts, the Democratic advantage was nearly 3 to 1. Yes, Massachusetts is a fairly liberal state but Republicans just didn't turn up for their home town hero Romney.
Compare 2008: D 1,230,00 v. R 480,000
to 2000: D 571,000 v. R 502,000.

Also, it's no surprise expat Dems are voting overwhelmingly for Obama. He would naturally appeal to both ideology and identity for most liberal, cosmopolitan Americans living abroad.