The Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLPS) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) hosted its America Votes 2022 panel on Tuesday, September 20 regarding the upcoming US Midterm Elections, the role of out-of-country voting (OCV), and the implications therein. Organized by the FLPS and American Political Science Association (APSA-GIR), a section of the Department of Government and Internal Relations, Mr. Stephen Kovacsics and Ms. Rita Atallah of the US Embassy, as well as representatives of Republicans Overseas Lebanon (ROL) and Democrats Abroad Lebanon (DAL), were invited to the Main Campus to convene in the Pierre Abou Khater Auditorium for the discussion, moderated by the FLPS Dean, Dr. Dany Samaha.
The FLPS organizes its America Votes event every two years, coterminous with both the presidential and congressional elections in the United States. The event was not held for the 2020 Presidential Election, however, due to the constraints of the COVID-19 lockdown, the topic of OCV at the University left hanging in another presidential tenure during the 2018 Midterms.
As the political climate has developed in the four years since and NDU has resumed its on-campus operations, the coordination of such an event is integral to the University’s mission of fostering enlightened citizenship and exercising civic duties. Lebanon itself has likewise experienced a political shift, with its parliamentary elections having taken place earlier in May of this year.
Dr. Eugene Sensenig, Professor at the FLPS and member of the DAL, along with Mr. Reed Clark, Head of the ROL, shared their 20-year experience in promoting OCV in Lebanon via the US Embassy and APSA-GIR. While expatriates are granted the right of absentee voting, they may not necessarily be familiar with the process, especially first-time voters.
Dr. Sensenig and Mr. Clark have thus worked to increase the accessibility of OCV: on Tuesday, the two underlined OCV’s influence on deciding results of elections and its role in ensuring that Americans in Lebanon remain active participants in US politics irrespective of their current place of residence. Midterms in particular better reflect individual preference, in comparison to the presidential elections wherein the casting vote is decided by the US Electoral College rather than the population.
The America Votes panel is therefore one initiative among many organized by NDU to highlight and encourage the civic responsibility of its diverse demographic. The US Embassy, ROL, and DAL have been and continue to be long-time collaborators of the University in these efforts. NDU thanks them for their presence on campus and relationship with the FLPS in rearing a conscientious and educated generation.