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American Offers His Presidential Election Vote to Malaysian Public - 2004-09-22

Like thousands of Americans around the world this year, Eric Ossemig will cast his vote in the U.S. presidential elections by mail. But unlike other overseas Americans, Mr. Ossemig is offering his vote to the people of Malaysia, the moderate Muslim Southeast Asian country where he lives.

In what he claims to be a unique gesture, journalist Eric Ossemig, a former U.S. Army infantryman from Prescott, Arizona, will vote in this year's U.S. presidential elections according to a poll on a leading Malaysian political website.

Malaysians can log on to the Malaysiakini website and cast a vote for a U.S. presidential candidate, and thousands have done so since the poll opened Tuesday. Mr. Ossemig says he will vote for the candidate who wins in that poll, regardless of his political leanings.

Mr. Ossemig has lived in Malaysia for about 14 years, is married to a Malaysian, and says people who are not Americans should have a say in choosing who leads the world's most powerful nation.

"The global citizenry does not vote for its global leader," he said. "Americans vote for the next global leader, who happens to be the U.S. president."

The website shows Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry, enjoying a massive lead, with 55 percent of the votes over President Bush, who currently has just 32 percent.

Recent domestic surveys in the United States show different results. A Gallup poll published last week put President Bush 13 percentage points ahead of his rival, while the Pew Research Center placed the two in a dead heat.

The poll, which only allows one vote per computer, is evidently not immune to political attacks. The website reported that hackers working from one computer in South Carolina and another in North Carolina managed to add more than 700 votes for President Bush, temporarily putting him ahead of Senator Kerry.

Mr. Ossemig says letting the Malaysian poll decide his vote is his way of bringing consensus-building back to U.S. foreign policy.

"In this age of globalization, the U.S. foreign policy that we are all impacted by is becoming increasingly divorced from the consensus-building that we [American] have a strong history in doing," said Mr. Ossemig.

Mr. Ossemig's gesture is symbolic, but he says he is using a peaceful, democratic process to let non-Americans voice their opinions about the outcome of the U.S. elections.