YVO: Civic Engagement in a Global Framework
By Clair Whitmer, Voter Outreach Director for the Overseas Vote Foundation
Those of us living abroad are often acutely aware of our “American-ness”. Many of us participate in forms of civic engagement in our overseas communities, but voting in U.S. federal elections remains one of the most important ties to the civic life of our home country.
This is especially true for young people: students studying abroad, volunteers or young professionals like the worldwide network of English teachers.
When they move abroad, many of these young citizens become aware for the first time of what it really means to be American, to themselves, and to people they meet. We know that if we can associate that experience with the act of casting a ballot, voting may very well become a lifetime habit
That’s our goal with Youth Vote Overseas (YVO), an offshoot of Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) that we launched in 2008 at the American Democracy Project Annual Meeting.
OVF is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that delivers online voting tools and information to make voting simpler and faster for voters living outside the U.S. Our YVO initiative is intended to build a network of young voters abroad that encourgage their peers to participate and spread the word about YVO’s online voter services.
We particularly depend on universities and colleges, like those represented by the ADP membership, to help deliver a simple message to students and faculty who are overseas on Election Day: you have the right to vote from wherever you are and YVO is there to help you do it.
We are grateful for the continued support of ADP and AASCU, which has done so much to help YVO reach its target audience.
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Matthew Segal, head of the Student Association for Voter Empowerment, at the OVF Summit 2010 in Munich. What do overseas and young voters have in common? It’s about citizenship, not partisanship
Talking to: OVF’s Clair Whitmer about the Importance of Overseas Voters