Americans living in Iceland who want to participate in this November’s presidential elections can now get help doing so through a new initiative, Democrats Abroad Iceland. It is the Icelandic chapter of Democrats Abroad, the overseas arm of the Democratic Party and the largest international organization of American citizens, which until now was in 190 countries, but not Iceland.
“From a political perspective, this is the most important election of our lifetime,” Lisa Franco, who co-founded the initiative with Edward Farmer, tells the Grapevine. “As Democrats we are fighting to defend the most fundamental American values: freedom, democracy, opportunity and prosperity – for everyone. These didn’t used to be partisan principles, but the current White House and its allies are working to undermine all of them.”
While most election years, the US embassy assists American citizens in casting their votes, Lisa tells us that “despite the extraordinary situation in the world and having one of the best staffed embassies in the world, it does not seem the Ambassador has instructed his staff to devote any but the most cursory effort to post the usual links on the embassy’s website.”
Democrats Abroad in Iceland intends to assist Americans who are fully, partially, or not at all familiar with the process of voting from overseas.
“We walk folks through the whole registration and emergency write-in ballot procedure on votefromabroad.org, and we assist them with any questions they may have,” she says. “People bring their own laptops and sit and have a coffee. Our goal is to get them registered, print out their registration applications and write-in ballot materials, and make sure they know how to vote and get their ballot to their local elections office by the fastest means possible according to the rules in their states. We also answer all questions we receive via email, Facebook Messenger, in person, and over the phone. We are holding another event this Sunday from 12:00 to 16:00 at 12Tonar on Skólavörðustígur to offer in-person assistance.”
The response to the initiative thus far has been overwhelmingly positive, Lisa says.
“Americans in Iceland seem really interested in casting their vote this election,” she tells us. “They want to know that it arrives on time and that their vote will be counted. Since we launched our site last week, we have helped dozens of people here in Iceland from 28 states.”
Lisa also emphasises that despite the name, people who support any political party in the US are welcome to take part.
“Who you vote is your business alone, but we think everyone should vote and be able trust that their vote will be counted,” Lisa says. “We also share the view that we have heard from many people that this election is also important because after the past three years we need to restore the good name and leadership of the US in the world. In Iceland that means returning to the foundations of our historically close relationship: living and demonstrating our belief in democracy, the value and rights of every person, and the mutual respect of good friends and allies.”
You can read more about and contact Democrats Abroad in Iceland through Facebook and, as mentioned, they will be hosting a voting event this Sunday from 12:00 to 16:00 at 12 Tónar, on Skólavörðustígur 15.
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