Voting from abroad always poses a challenge for expats. Students, professors, and political activists met on September 5, 2018, at noon, at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) to discuss out-of-country voting (OCV) with representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, the Democrats Abroad, and Republicans Overseas.
Organized by the Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLPS) and the American Political Science Association (APSA) section in the Department of Government and Political Science (GIR) at NDU, the event focused on the upcoming ‘midterm’ congressional elections in the United States and the role that the 120,000 Americans in Lebanon can play in them. The OCV is all about voter turnout. Having the right to vote from abroad means nothing if participation in these elections remains low. This situation is a problem that political parties and embassies in both countries face.
U.S. Embassy Political Officer Cyndi Waite emphasized that voting from abroad has often had a huge impact on election results. NDU GIR master’s student Joelle Zlakat noted that dual Lebanese-American citizens today have the opportunity and are duty-bound to make a difference in two parliamentary elections this year (Lebanon and the United States). She described her experience growing up in Arizona and studying at NDU, and how being active in partisan politics helps students improve their technical and social skills.
The new FLPS Dean Dr. Cedar Mansour and GIR Chairperson Dr. Dany Ghsoub hosted the panel. The intention is to build on this event for future collaboration between the United States and Lebanon at NDU. The U.S Embassy in Lebanon will soon be hosting American Town Hall meetings throughout Lebanon to reach out to both U.S. and Lebanese citizens.