Can changes be made to the Voting Center hours, dates, or locations after the December 31 deadline?
Late changes present the GPP Team with a serious problem, because DA should distribute the final list of Voting Centers by January 11, when ballots for remote voting become available.
According to the DSP, any changes after December 31 would require the written agreement of the International Chair -- after a formal request from the Country Committee chair.
If there is a change after the official list is published -- which is, again, expected to be finished by January 11 -- our DSP will require an expensive "effort at public notification" to correct the mistaken impression given by the initial list. The costs of that effort will be the Country Committee's responsibility. Still, once the list goes online, there will forever be an old and inaccurate version out there, seeding misinformation.
It's not enough to say, "Our members will get plenty of notices about the new location," because this Voting Center must serve all Americans residing in a chapter's territory -- and also Americans living elsewhere who know that they will visit the area in March.
The Dec 31 deadline exists for a reason. We should adopt a final list of Voting Centers early enough to give voters the information they need to decide whether to vote by mail. Voting by mail starts January 11. As it is, the GPP Team will need to scramble to assemble the final list of Voting Centers by that date.
Can voters living abroad vote in both the GPP and their home state's Democratic primary?
The GPP Team is eager to provide straightforward language to help you explain the situation to fellow Democrats living abroad. When we finished the “short version” last week, we decided to get that in your hands as early as possible. So here it is:
Many voters living abroad wonder how voting in the Global Presidential Primary affects voting in state primaries. As a Democrat living abroad, you may vote in only one primary for a Presidential candidate. In other words, you may vote for a Presidential candidate in EITHER the Global Presidential Primary, OR your home state’s primary (or caucus if you happen to be there).
When you vote in DA’s Global Presidential Primary, you may not vote for a Presidential candidate in your voting state’s primary. BUT you may still vote in your home state’s primary for US House and Senate and other down ballot races as determined by your local election official.
How will DA's current members learn about voting by email, post, or fax?
The first date that DA's current members will be able to request a remote ballot is January 11. (A "remote ballot" is a ballot returned by email, post, or fax – rather than a ballot voted in-person at a Voting Center.) By that time, every CC will have designated an individual to receive those requests by email (and by post). A global team of volunteers will also respond to requests emailed to a central email address and sent to a central postal address. The global and CC-level contacts will be published on DA's website along with an announcement that DA members who cannot come to a local Voting Center may vote by email, post, and fax.
The GPP Team continues to work on a clear and comprehensive guide for those volunteers. That guide will include explicit and detailed instructions to send to anyone who requests a ballot. (There may be separate instructions for current members and for those who need to sign up as a DA member first.)
From January through February, we expect that CC leaders at the country and chapter levels will include a note describing the Global Presidential Primary and the online availability of ballots with most regular announcements. The GPP Team will make a template available to ensure that those descriptions are clear and accurate.
The GPP Team will coordinate with the ExCom, the Comms Team, and others to build a communications campaign that is well-timed and well-crafted to maximize its visibility. CC leaders can expect to hear more about that campaign, including the task of reaching members without email addresses, in the next few weeks.
Eligibility to vote in the GPP
Who can vote in the Global Presidential Primary? Is there same-day registration?
All American citizens who will be 18 by the date of the general election (Nov 8, 2016), who live outside the United States and its territories, and who wish to participate as Democrats. In order to participate as a Democrat, one must be a member of Democrats Abroad. Qualified individuals may join DA on the day of the primary.
Our DSP mentions a deadline of January 31, 2016 that can be misleading. The DSP states that all members of Democrats Abroad as of January 31 are "presumed qualified to vote in the Global Primary unless proof can be established to the contrary." The intent of this statement is to set a high bar for disenfranchising these Americans living abroad.
This statement does not mean that individuals joining Democrats Abroad after January 31 are not qualified to vote. It simply means that they may be asked for evidence of their eligibility to vote. (Guidelines on when and how to ask for such evidence will be part of the Guide for Voting Center Managers.)
Americans living abroad may join Democrats Abroad after January 31 and still cast a valid remote ballot by mail, fax, or email, up to the same deadlines that apply to everyone else. This is true for in-person voting at Voting Centers as well.
There are US citizens born overseas to American parents who are residents of one of the states that does not grant voting rights to residents' children born overseas. These US citizens cannot obtain a ballot to vote in the primary of their "home state." Democrats Abroad has no such restriction. In these cases, the Global Presidential Primary is these US citizens' only opportunity to help determine the Democratic nominee for President. Our Voting Rights group is always interested to learn more about such cases, so please suggest that US citizens in this situation (1) vote in the GPP, of course, and (2) contact firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the Voting Rights group.
Checking eligibility to vote at a Voting Center
Does the Voting Center Manager need to check the passports of all new members of DA casting ballots at a Voting Center?
Each person voting must sign a statement on the ballot itself that certifies his or her eligibility to vote, which includes US citizenship and other qualifications including residence abroad and not voting for a Presidential candidate in any other primary. There is no duty of the Voting Center Manager to check passports or otherwise guarantee the eligibility of those who wish to become members of Democrats Abroad and vote on the same date.
According to our DSP, members of Democrats Abroad as of January 31, 2016, are presumed to be qualified to vote in the primary, in the absence of positive proof of disqualification. An observer may challenge a voter's status by processes outlined in the DSP, including "positive proof" as defined below:
Positive proof of this kind could include, but would not be limited to, documents that indicate that a person attempting to vote is not a U.S. citizen, is not a member of Democrats Abroad, is a member of a Country Committee of Democrats Abroad other than the one in which the voter is seeking to participate, or records indicating that the person attempting to vote, voted in another Country Committee, in another delegation’s delegate-selection process, or in the corresponding elections of another political party.
The GPP Team recognizes that non-citizens will attempt to participate -- almost always out of a combination of enthusiasm for American politics and misunderstanding our very real primary as a mere straw poll. Voting Center Managers will benefit from a set of clear and comprehensive guidelines that set out when asking for evidence of eligibility would be appropriate and what kind of evidence would be acceptable. Those guidelines will be distributed as part of the overall guide to running a Voting Center.
A key point is that our provisional ballot is intended to ensure that we never turn away an individual who might be eligible to vote in our primary. (Thanks to IVC Ken Sherman for stressing this crucial aspect of our primary.) Voting Center Managers will have a clear sequence of steps for using a provisional ballot in these circumstances.
Use of a private home as a Voting Center
How does the exemption for using a private home as a Voting Center work?
Answer from Will Bakker
The exemption (mentioned in Section III.B.3.d, on page 13 of the DSP) is due by December 31. There is no formal process at this time, so you can send an email message to the International Chair at email@example.com (and carbon-copy firstname.lastname@example.org). Your request should be clear in all its details, including your name, your position (chapter chair or country committee chair), and the area served by the Voting Center. You should provide at the beginning of the request the specific address, building type, proprietor, and residents of the proposed site.
The explicit standard in the DSP is "good cause for the exemption." This is like saying, "I know it when I see it." Ultimately, each case is down to the judgment of the International Chair with the assistance of the International Counsel. If you're looking for certainty so that you can plan well in advance, submit your request early. The deadline is December 31, but there is no reason to wait until the last day or week if you are concerned whether you have "good cause." There's also no reason why you can't start a conversation before submitting the formal request.
The idea is that the private home must be as accessible as a good public site for a polling place and as neutral as a typical public site. So, it should be easily accessible to persons with physical disabilities, centrally located, and easy to enter without undue security barriers. You must be able to post large signs that make it easy for people to find, with adequate access to parking and/or public transportation.
The residence itself should not send any kind of political message. What we are doing at the Voting Centers is not an ordinary chapter event or even a special event. It involves the same concerns as running a real polling place in a primary in a US state.
Here in Luxembourg, I would never consider using an apartment that requires a buzz-in security door. I would not accept the offer to use the home of an ExCom member who is known to be a vocal supporter of one candidate or another, no matter how neutral or convenient the site. I would hesitate to use a home that was not on a major road directly served by local and regional buses. I would ensure that we could post large signs throughout the neighborhood without the neighbors or local authorities getting upset. I would prefer a location that encouraged people to mill around at the exterior entrance, sending the message that something big is going on. (All these things also make it easier for local media to cover the event.)
Your guiding principle in this situation -- whether you agree with it or not -- should be that the very fact that it is a private residence will be a hurdle for the participation of some Democrats. Make your choices with the idea that you're already behind. Write your request for an exemption by showing how you made up for that basic disadvantage and avoided the pitfalls.
Country Committee Compliance
Is there a relationship between a Country Committee's compliance with the DA Charter and its participation in the Global Presidential Primary?
The Country Committees that can participate in the Global Presidential Primary with Voting Centers are the CCs that are "in good standing" (which mostly means "in compliance with DA's Charter") as of December 31, 2015. Not coincidentally, that's the same deadline for most of the information that CC chairs need to provide about how they'll run the Global Presidential Primary. Country Committees need to stay in good standing to participate in the subsequent steps, such as the Regional Caucus and the Global Convention. There are several Charter-mandated deadlines between Dec 31, 2015 and the Global Convention, such as the membership verification process.