Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

US ELECTIONS

US Democrats in the UAE head to the polls for Super Tuesday

Dozens of Americans living in the Emirate turned out for the Global Presidential Primary

Americans living in the UAE cast their votes in the Democratic primary. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Americans living in the UAE cast their votes in the Democratic primary. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Americans living in the UAE came out in force on Tuesday to cast their ballot in the race to choose the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election.

Dozens of voters based in the Emirates headed to a polling station in Dubai to ensure their voice was heard during the primaries.

Known as Super Tuesday, 14 states will decide which Democrat candidate they want to see run against presidential incumbent Donald Trump.

Currently, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden are broadly considered the frontrunners in the contest.

Elizabeth Warren, the long-standing Massachusetts senator, also continues her candidacy, as does Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor.

Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend in Indiana, and senator Kamala Harris have both suspended their campaigns.

“I’m a Sanders sister,” voter Jacqueline Lopez, an American who has lived on and off in the UAE for the last five years, told The National.

I decided to go with Bernie Sanders because it seems he has a lot more support. I thought I should put my vote in a place where it would really count so I have an effect

Voter Bruce Dauphin

“I’m one of the ones that the movement has motivated to come out in the primaries - this is my first time voting in the primary.

“This is the most important election of our lifetime. We have to be proactive to get Trump out of office and I think Bernie is the one that can do that.”

Over recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Democrats across the US have been taking part in a series of caucuses or primaries to decide their candidate.

The more votes a contender secures during the process, the more delegates - those who represent their state at national party conventions - they are awarded.

Later this summer, these delegates then go on to vote for their candidate to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

Each candidate aims to reach a majority of 1,991 delegates, with a massive 1,357 up for grabs across 14 states on Super Tuesday.

In Dubai, Democrats Abroad, the official arm of the Democratic Party for Americans overseas, opened their first polling station at 7am.

Under the Global Primary system - designed for American voters abroad - other polling stations will also be available in Abu Dhabi between now and March 10. Voters can also cast their ballot via email.

Chris Whiteoak / The National
Chris Whiteoak / The National

"My favourite, Pete Buttigieg, dropped out yesterday,” said Bruce Dauphin, another first-time primary voter.

“Elizabeth Warren was my second choice but I decided to go with Bernie Sanders because it seems he has a lot more support.

“So I thought I should put my vote in a place where it would really count so I have an effect.”

Many voters like Mr Dauphin also mentioned the need to vote tactically, weighing up personal preference for a candidate with who might stand the best chance of uprooting President Trump.

“I just sat outside the voting area for half an hour trying to decide,” said Nancy Ray, who moved to the Emirates from Colorado in 2007.

“I was torn between Biden and Sanders. I wondered if I go Biden, will the youth actually vote for Biden?

“And if I vote for Sanders, will the more moderate or independent voters vote for Sanders in the general election?

“Having looked at that and being a huge Obama supporter... I feel like my vote needed to go with Biden.”

Under the primary and caucus system, each state is awarded a set number of delegates, with a total of 3,979 in play.

All Americans living abroad come together to represent a “state” of their own, amounting to a distribution of 13 delegates.

Currently, the UAE chapter of Democrats Abroad has more than 1,500 members, with 162 new members joining in February 2020 alone.

Because of the increase in membership, UAE Democrats Abroad Chapter Chair Ridah Sabouni said he expected a higher turnout than in previous years.

Ridah Sabouni, chairman of the Democrats Abroad UAE chapter. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Ridah Sabouni, chairman of the Democrats Abroad UAE chapter. Chris Whiteoak / The National

James Robert, a Sanders supporter, explained that while Americans living abroad were not necessarily affected by domestic policies, the choice of US president affected how Americans were perceived abroad.

“I remember in 2009, non-Americans having American flags and Barack Obama placards and people coming up to me and saying 'Congratulations,'” said Mr Robert.

“And then I remember in 2016, people were laughing because [the situation] was a joke. I prefer to be thought of as a thought leader instead of a joke.”

Updated: March 3, 2020 08:05 PM

THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email