Last Saturday, 5 March, members of the St Andrews chapter of Democrats Abroad cast their votes in the Global Presidential Primary, which this year is being held at the Arts Building in St Andrews itself.
The Global Primary is being held in locations around the world between the 1 and 8 of March.
This primary is the only opportunity for American citizens living abroad to cast their votes in person rather than by absentee ballot.
The Global Presidential Primary provides an opportunity for Americans living around the world to vote in person for their chosen candidate, at one of the 121 official voting centres, located around the world in cities such as Brussels, Vancouver, Edinburgh and of course in St Andrews.
Democrats Abroad will send a total of 21 delegates to the Democratic National Convention being held in Philadelphia in July, 13 of these being allocated according to voting in the primary and eight of these being ‘super delegates’ – party officials who are free to cast their vote for either candidate.
Those casting their vote in the primary have two candidates to choose from, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders or Secretary of State and former New York Senator Hilary Clinton.
The choice of candidates, as well as the increased engagement by both candidates with the Global Primary, is expected to produce a high turnout.
This is in contrast to the 2012 Primary, in which Barack Obama’s uncontested status in this primary meant that many voters abroad did not turn out to vote.
Throughout this election cycle both campaigns have engaged widely with Democrats living around the world, culminating in a Global Town Hall held on 21 February, in which Bernie Sanders, and a representative of Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, spoke to over 5000 potential voters via video link.
Katie Solon, chair of Democrats Abroad, said that this year’s Primary was: “A dedicated attempt by both the Sanders and Clinton campaign to win over US Democrats living abroad has seen a surge of interest in Americans wishing to take part in the Global Presidential Primary.
“This means that those casting their votes in St Andrews have the opportunity to join in with the growing number of Americans worldwide who choose to engage with the democratic process even when they are unable to vote in country. “
Marie Davis, one of the founding members of the group, ‘St Andrews Students for Bernie Sanders’ and an active member of the St Andrews chapter of Democrats Abroad, remarked that,
“The fact that our university is able to host a polling station this year will hopefully mean big things for the ability of the international population of St Andrews to contribute to American politics.”
However, she added that, “there is unfortunately no online voting for this primary.”
She calls the fact that St Andrews is able to hold its own polling station “very exciting” noting that otherwise “the closest polling station would have been Edinburgh.”
The increased accessibility of the democratic process for American students, and other expatriates, living in St Andrews is seen as a positive development by Davis, who notes that “this race is going to be a close one, and every vote will count.”
Final results for the Primary will not be announced until all ballots have been counted, but they are expected to be released and the delegates allocated by 20 March.