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Expat Impact on the United States Presidential Election

05 November, 2012 11:51  Erin Erin

The fate of the 2012 United States Presidency will be decided on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. It will be the 57th quadrennial presidential election and its effects will be felt by its citizens, citizens abroad, and the world at large. It is believed that incumbent president Barrack Obama is ahead in the polls, but nothing is certain until after the election when one of the candidates admits defeat.

  • November 6, 2012 - Election Day
  • December 17, 2012 - Electoral College formally elects President and Vice President
  • January 3, 2013 - The new Congress is sworn in
  • January 6, 2013 - Electoral votes are formally counted before joint session of Congress
  • January 20, 2013 - Inauguration oaths are taken; the new presidential term starts
  • January 21, 2013 - Inauguration Day


Barrack Obama

Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama and Democratic vice-president Joe Biden are running for a second (and final as limited by law) term.

  • First African American to hold the office
  • Graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.
  • Born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961
  • Three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004
  • Won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Major acts: Signed economic stimulus legislation, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, Budget Control Act of 2011, ended US military involvement in the Iraq War, increased troop levels in Afghanistan, signed the New START arms control treaty with Russia, ordered U.S. military involvement in Libya, and ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.
  • In May 2012, he became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly support legalizing same-sex marriage.

Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the Republican presidential nominee with Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-president.

  • Served as the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007
  • American businessman at Bain & Company and cofounder of Bain Capital with a net worth of between $190-250 million
  • Born March 12, 1947 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • Graduate of Brigham Young with a Bachelor of Arts and earned a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from Harvard.
  • Active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he spent two and a half years in France as a Mormon missionary
  • President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics

Other Candidates

The United States operates on a system which allows for multiple candidates, but only the Democratic and Republican nominees have a viable chance of winning the post. However, four other candidates are mathematically eligible to win the election by a majority of the electoral college.

  • Gary Johnson - Libertarian nominee
  • Jill Stein - Green Party nominee
  • Virgil Goode - Constitution Party nominee (combined ballot access and write-in status in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, the minimum number needed to win the election)
  • Rocky Anderson - Justice Party nominee (combined ballot access and write-in status in enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, the minimum number needed to win the election)

Expat Votes

Almost all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who reside outside the United States are eligible to vote absentee for candidates for federal offices in U.S. primary and general elections. American expats officially gained the right to vote in 1975, but many expats abstain from voting. It is unknown exactly how many American live abroad, but it is estimated at about six million. Of those living abroad, only 1.2 million ballots were sent overseas in 2008 and only about three quarters of these ballots were returned.

Among the main reasons people give for not voting is the difficulty in understanding how to register and vote. There are different administrative regulations for each of the 50 states and five territories. In addition, residency can be a problem as expats are required to give a US address. They also have to renew their registration each year in order to vote.

Several agencies are working to correct these issues. The Uniform Law Commission seeks to create uniform voting rules for expats from all states. While this reform is a fight for the future, other reforms like the MOVE Act addresses the issue of ballot times. There is now a mandatory 45-day period in between the day the ballots are sent out and the elections. The MOVE act also requires states to have at least one form of electronic transmission to get voting materials out to voters.

All this does not address how the rest of the world feels about the elections. While they may not get a vote, the outcome of the election can have dramatic affects on the lives. A BBC poll of 21,797 people in 21 countries found that an average of 50 percent favored Obama, with a mere 9 percent in favor of Romney.

BBC Presidential poll

Expat Viewing Parties

While it is hard to tell what effects these acts have had until after the election, there is no doubt that many Americans will be waiting anxiously for the results.

Have a viewing party you want to share? Leave the details in the comment section!

Expat Voting Resources




Barack Obama has won the 2012 Presidential Election!

Final numbers are still coming in for state elections and Florida has not been decided, but Obama has clearly swept the election with 303 electoral votes and 56,380,209 popular votes. The Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, only received 206 electoral votes and 54,935,639 popular votes. Individual states still have exciting races to run, but Obama has 4 more years to show the world what he can do.

For more official results as they come in, refer to Politico's 2012 Election Results.


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Unfortunately it will be 4 more (or at least 2 more) difficult years as the Americans have also put back a Republican congress... Difficult compromises and thin margins for the presidency on budget and other major issues...

Cyril     07 Nov 2012, 09:48


The Republicans gave the Democrats the run for their money. If only to put pressure on re-evaluating the government's policies. Really, it's not about who wins or loses. Given the swinging nature of politics, Romney would probably become the next president (45th) of the US.

Joe     07 Nov 2012, 10:15