During his presidency, Trump has been a danger and a menace to all Americans, whether residing in the United States or not. From his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to his repeal of bills meant to protect trans folx, to his continued separation and incarceration of families through immigrant detention centers, Trump has failed this country. If you’d like more examples, take a look at DAROK’s reading of the Declaration of Independence. When reelections come this year, we need to examine not only the presidency but all elected government positions. Only by getting representation across the board can we enact the structural changes necessary to combat issues such as climate change, police brutality, student debt, and reproductive justice.

After you request your absentee ballot, your Local Election Official will send you ballots for all elections in which you are eligible to vote in that calendar year. Every American can vote in the presidential and federal elections. But not all states allow down-ballot voting, so if you have the chance, you need to take it. 

What is down-ballot? Down-ballot is any government position underneath the president and congress. This includes everything from state representatives to sheriffs and attorney generals. If the president is the head of the government, then down ballots are the legs of the government. We need to take the opportunity this election season to make sure we are standing on sturdy legs. 

In other words, down-ballot votes allow us to affect the positions of Trump’s enabling supporters, such as Mitch McConnell in the Senate. They also affect the change of leadership and legislature at the state level. The federal and republican state legislature creates a cycle of harm on the local level. For instance, Mike Pence’s defunding of Planned Parenthood and subsequent mishandling of an HIV crisis in his state reflect a pattern of leadership that he has carried into his vice presidency. On a local level, there have been spikes in coronavirus infections throughout states with Republican leadership. Voter suppression in Republican-led states such as Georgia only perpetuates the cycle.

In contrast, states with Democratic leadership have seen their governors working hard to protect their constituents. For example, Colorado supported Planned Parenthood at the local level to counteract Pence’s actions. Overall there is a lower rate of coronavirus outbreak in Democratic-led states, such as New Mexico, and many democratic states have taken the safety of their residents seriously by planning for distanced voting.

And let’s not forget the importance of voting in sheriff and attorney general elections as well. It is clear from the Black Lives Matter movement that our nation is devastated by police brutality. While we are waiting for the nation at large to affect change, we have the power to influence our local communities through Sheriff elections and choose who makes our local policing policies. We can make our communities safer by electing attorney generals who vow to protect immigrants, create sanctuary cities, and support EPA regulations and protected lands. 

How to Request Your Ballot

Now that we know what is at stake this election season, let’s review how to request your ballot. You must do this for every election!  

We highly suggest using this website as states can’t turn away your ballot because they “can’t read your handwriting.” This service is offered in English and in Spanish. It can be done on your smartphone right now! Any US citizen, military and civilian, can use it!

First, check your state’s information. Make sure you know your deadlines and the submission requirements. With 50 states, there are bound to be some quirky procedures. 

Next, go to votefromabroad.org and click start now. All sessions are completely anonymous. Fill in your details and your voting information. Make sure you have identification required by your state, like your social security number or driver’s license.  

After you’ve filled out all the lines, double-check your generated FPCA (Federal Post Card Application). 

If you have a state that allows online submission, sign it, and send it in. You’re done! If not, print it out and mail or fax it in.

Congratulations! You have just exercised perhaps your biggest constitutional right as an American! Sometimes it may feel like your vote is inconsequential; our country is huge, and it sometimes feels like a dumpster fire. This is particularly why YOUR vote counts; system change can begin with us, and we have the opportunity to affect that change. That is pretty cool, if we may say so ourselves.

Democrats Abroad South Korea (DAROK) is the official country committee for all Democrats living abroad in South Korea. All English teachers and all workers. All spouses and children. All refugees and students abroad for the first time. The goals of our organization are to provide you the tools and means by which you can make your voice heard, even halfway across the world. With DAROK, you can be sure you, your friends, and your family are registered to vote. Learn more at democratsabroad.org/kr or at info-south-korea@democratsabroad.org

Written by: Kate Myers and the DAROK Voting and Education Committee
Edited by: Lisa Espinosa

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