US citizens living in Australia will have a chance to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee today.
Hillary Clinton was running neck and neck with rival Bernie Sanders as “Super Tuesday” primaries opened for party members in 11 US states.
Experts and organisers say the Australian vote could be crucial to deciding who will lead the party at November’s presidential election. The Democrats Abroad caucus, representing party members outside the US, sends 13 delegates to the Democratic National Convention on July 25, where the party’s nominee is declared.
Democrats Abroad Victoria state chairwoman, Ersie Burke said organisers expect to see a bumper turnout of voters at polling stations in Melbourne and Sydney. “I think it will be the biggest since the caucus began in 2008. It’s a tight race and a lot of young people are really excited about Bernie Sanders,” she said.
A strong showing in South Carolina has given Hillary Clinton a slight lead over the Vermont senator, but the Democrats Abroad caucus would likely favour Sanders, according to University of Sydney US Studies Centre lecturer Thomas Adams. “An awful lot of Democrats living abroad fit the profile of Sanders voters,” he said. “They are students and young people who are socially progressive and admire his stance on issues like health care.”
Dr Adams told The Newsroom that Democrats living overseas are more cosmopolitan in outlook than the domestic voter, another factor that would lead them to support Senator Sanders. “US citizens living in Australia or Singapore will tend to favour a less interventionist foreign policy than Clinton advocates,” he said.
Voters at the small New Zealand primary held in Wellington on Monday night favoured Senator Sanders 21-6. In a tight race, those votes might be pivotal. “Every delegate for Sanders matters at the moment, that’s because the campaign is in many ways about trying to reform the party, as long as he is in the race he has the platform to do that,” Dr Adams said.
Democrats Abroad International chairwoman Katie Solon told reporters the Wellington voters held more influence than their low numbers suggested. “Democrats in New Zealand have made the first contribution to what could be a decisive day in US Primary elections,” she said.
Republicans in Australia can vote in their state caucuses, but the party has no specific representation for overseas members. – Geir O’Rourke
Photo of US President Barack Obama and former prime minister Tony Abbott taken from G20 Australia’s Flickr photostream.