Democrats Abroad Global Primary

We have lived in Singapore since 2010, and have voted in every election in which we’ve been eligible in the nearly six years since. We had requested our 2016 presidential primary ballots when I got an email from Democrats Abroad, which I joined several years ago, telling us about the Global Presidential Primary.

To vote in the Democrats Abroad primary, you must be a registered Democrat, a member of Democrats Abroad, and not vote absentee in your home state. While there is an equivalent organization for Republicans–Republicans Abroad–they do not have an equivalent to the DA Global Primary. Republicans who live outside the US must vote absentee in their home states.


For my non-American readers, let me do a quick lesson on how the Democrats and Republicans choose their presidential nominees. I am oversimplifying because the process could fill a very large book.

1-To run for president you must be a citizen of the US at birth, thirty-five years old, and have lived in the US for fourteen years. (As an example–Rhi was born abroad, she is a natural born citizen as the child of a citizen, and her birth was registered with the US government. She has a US birth certificate issued by the State Department, and holds a US Passport).

2-Register with the FEC (Federal Election Committee). They must register state by state to get on the ballot, which is often very expensive (everything about running for president is expensive). Each state also has different requirements.

3-You run for the nomination of your party. Over the course of several months primaries are held, leading up to nominating conventions. This is why you see candidates dropping out–losing primaries means you won’t raise money and if you’re not winning, you won’t get enough delegates to be nominated so you’re wasting time and money.

  • Republican primaries are sometimes winner take all, and sometimes proportional. So when Trump won my home state of Massachusetts, he got roughly half the votes and half the delegates. Between March 15 and the nominating convention, states can award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis (If you win a majority, you get all the delegates from that state.). A Republican must get 1,237 delegates out of 2,472 to secure the nomination.
  •  Democrats assign delegates proportionally. When Clinton won Massachusetts, she did so with 50 percent of the vote, and only received 46 delegates to Sanders’s 45. That said, Democrats have a unique type of delegate known as a “super delegate” who is not obligated to vote for the winner of their state. Massachusetts has 25 super delegates who can choose to support either candidate. A Democrat must get 2,383 delegates out of 4,051 to secure the nomination.

I’ll get into the rest of it after the nominating conventions and leading up to the election. If you have questions, ask them in the comments.

The votes cast in more than one hundred and fifty countries in the DA Global Primary will be counted. Thirteen pledged delegates and eight super delegates will be sent to the nominating convention on our behalf. Singapore had their in-person voting event last night.


There are around 26, 000 Americans living in Singapore. I haven’t seen any numbers on how many of those 26,000 are registered voters, nor how many are Democrats as opposed to Republicans. Anecdotally, I can tell you I’ve met plenty of members of each party.

This was the first time there has been in-person voting in Singapore. In the past, you could only vote by email. Although Ravi, Elanor and I arrived about ten minutes after polls opened, there was already a line. People were smiling and the excitement in the air was infectious.

We signed in and waited our turn to enter the voting room. The candidates on the ballot were Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley (withdrawn) and Roque de la Fuente (irrelevant).


Elanor sat next to me while I filled out my ballot, and then helped me put it in the ballot box. I had talked to her about both the candidates, and why I’m pro-Hillary. Then she watched Ravi put his vote in the box. The staffer gave all three of us our “I voted” stickers and we went into the hallway to wait for Notabilia, who was also there so she and I could take a traditional I voted selfie.


Today I received an email from DA saying that 114 people had voted in person and the tally  was as follows:

Hillary Clinton                     68 votes

Bernie Sanders                   45 votes

Uncommitted                      1 vote

We are pretty unique in that Hillary won the in-person votes. So far Sanders has led the in-person voting by a significant amount according to this article. While I do tend to think Sanders will win the Global Primary, it’s a bit irresponsible to call the primary at this point. The majority of people will vote via email or fax and the primary is ongoing.

I’ll do a short update post after the results come in on March 21.

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