This year, for the first time, expatriate Democrats can cast their ballots on the Internet in a presidential primary for people living outside the United States. Democrats Abroad, an official branch of the party representing overseas voters, will hold its first global presidential preference primary from Feb. 5 to 12, with ex-pats selecting the candidate of their choice by Internet as well as fax, mail and in-person at polling places in more than 100 countries. Democrats Abroad is particularly proud of the online voting option - which provides a new alternative to the usual process of voting from overseas, a system made difficult by complicated voter registration paperwork, early deadlines and unreliable foreign mail service. "The online system is incredibly secure: That was one of our biggest goals," said Lindsey Reynolds, executive director of Democrats Abroad. "And it does allow access to folks who ordinarily wouldn't get to participate."
U.S. citizens wanting to vote online must join Democrats Abroad before Feb. 1 and indicate their preference to vote by Internet instead of in the local primaries wherever they last lived in the United States. They must promise not to vote twice for president, but can still participate in non-presidential local elections. Members get a personal identification number from Everyone Counts Inc., the San Diego-based company running the online election. They can then use the number to log in and cast their ballots. Their votes will be represented at the August Democratic National Convention by 22 delegates, who according to party rules get half a vote each for a total of 11. That's more than U.S. territories get, but fewer than the least populous states, Wyoming and Alaska, which get 18 delegate votes each. Everyone Counts has been building elections software for a decade, running the British Labor Party's online voting since 2000 and other British elections since 2003, chief executive officer Lori Steele said.
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