American Expats voting from Bordeaux: mobilization, excitement and fear

Most Americans living abroad are eligible to vote but their turnout is generally very low. In 2016, out of the 250 000 Americans living in France, 170 000 were potential voters. However most of them didn’t send in their ballots.

To learn more about overseas voting and talk about voter motivation and anxiety in 2020, we sat with Kris Chateauneuf, an English teacher at the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne. As one of the 6000 U.S. citizens living in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, she decided to exercice her right to vote and she sent her absentee ballot in October.

Q&A: 1. What is it like to be an American abroad during this election?

2. Why is the overseas voter turnout so low ? Some say it is out of fear that their participation might result in higher federal or state taxes. Is it so?

3. Can the lack of participation also be interpreted as a lack of concern? Are US citizens living in France really mobilized?

4. Kris says that she feels like an « outsider » with respect to the majority vote in South Carolina. Why is this election so divisive?

Because of the pandemic, Americans living abroad faced more challenges than usual to cast their vote this year. They were advised to request their absentee ballots as early as possible and to look up the specific voting guidelines of their states. In France, Embassies and Consulates are not polling places but they played an important role during this election. To learn more about their duties during an election cycle, we met with Mr Alexander Lipscomb, U.S Consul in Bordeaux. 

Maxime Giraudeau, Lauryane Arzel, Nicolas Azam