This story was written by Jamie Bullus, Oklahoma Daily
For the first time, Democrats living outside of the U.S. can cast their vote via the Internet as part of the first online global primary.
Democrats living in more than 100 countries will be able to choose a candidate between Feb. 5 and Feb. 12.
Jody Couser, Democrats Abroad press officer, said students studying abroad also are able to vote online if they register with Democrats Abroad before Jan. 31.
Sara Connery, international area studies and religious studies senior, said she studied abroad in Spain last year. While living overseas, she said she realized how much Americans take their constitutional freedoms and rights for granted.
"Voting is important no matter where you are," Connery said. "When abroad, voting is especially important both as a means to stay connected to your home country and as a reflection of a very unique perspective."
She said she would have relished the opportunity to participate in such an important election.
"I'm really glad to hear that there will be online voting offered this year, as I think it will increase the feasibility of voting from overseas," Connery said.
The online voting offered by Democrats Abroad is only for the primary, Couser said. For the general election, overseas Democrats will have to continue voting through the governmental system of absentee ballots to their states.
Citizens living outside of the U.S. can register to vote either through the Democratic Global Primary or their state primary back home but cannot do both, according to the Vote From Abroad Web site.
Couser said the Democratic National Committee recognizes Democrats Abroad as a state democratic party.
The State Democratic Parties work to elect local, state and federal candidates in their states, as well as supporting the state campaign for the Democratic presidential nominee, according to the Democratic National Committee's Web site.
Couser said there are 56 state parties including the 50 states, U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and Democrats Abroad.
Matt Felty, public administration junior, said Republicans Abroad should work on getting this online voting option, although Republicans living overseas can still vote in their home state's primary through absentee ballots.
"I believe that Republicans abroad could have a significant impact on the election if given the online voting option," Felty said. "Both parties are aided when their electorate has an easier time to vote."
Felty said he would use the online option if it was offered while he lived in another country. Even if it was not available, he said he would still vote by absentee ballot.
Connery said, while she doesn't think the new option will affect a large number of voters, it is still important.
"The more citizens that take advantage of their right to vote, the more accurately the outcome of an election will reflect the views of the public," she said.
© 2008 Oklahoma Daily via U-WIRE