Voting in the presidential election difficult for US expats in the Netherlands
Generally all US citizens aged 18 and up who are residing outside the United States during an election period are eligible to vote. Those who send in their ballots and don’t visit the polling station in person are called absentee voters.
There are roughly 20.000 Americans with the right to vote in elections for Federal Office living in the Netherlands, but only a small percentage of them are expected to send in a valid ballot.
Complicated and time consuming
The difficulty seems to lie with the procedures, which are deemed too complicated and time consuming.
Absentee voters from most U.S. states will have to register and request a ballot with the Federal Post Card Application. This form is found online and has to be filled in, printed, signed and mailed.
Local election offices will then send out the ballots, which have to be filled in and sent separately.
Deadlines for the various steps are quite vague and differ per state, resulting in many people missing the deadline to request or send in their ballot.
After the registering deadlines, voters in the Netherlands also have to be sure to send in their ballots about 10 days before the election, due to the delivery period.
Currently, the registration deadline for the upcoming November 8 election has already passed in most cases. Since some states do not require the registration step, this requirement might be deemed unnecessarily restrictive.
Voting from abroad can be decisive
In the 2012 elections, only four percent of Americans living abroad cast their votes.
Nevertheless, the contribution from U.S. expats living in other countries can be a decisive factor. The 2000 U.S. elections are thought to have been decided by votes from abroad.