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Britons Outsource their Vote to Afghanistan, Ghana, and Bangladesh


British voters go to the polls May 6 after a political campaign that has seen domestic issues in the forefront. But there is a new element to this year's election that has a decidedly foreign angle - non-British citizens living in Afghanistan, Ghana, and Bangladesh are going to be able to add their voice. Give Your Vote is a new private project that lets Britons donate their vote to people living in the developing world.

A convoy drove down the streets of Kabul last week covered with banners promoting Britain's upcoming election.

Flyers were handed out that told Afghans about the foreign policies of Britain's top party leaders.

They were being informed about Britain's election because some of them are going to have a hand in it.

Current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had a supporter in Kabul:

"I have done my selection and I have selected him to give my vote and before this he has done many things for Afghans," he said.

But so too did Mr. Brown's top rival:

"I decided to give to Conservative Mr. David Cameron," he said. "Why? Because he has a clear policy regarding Afghanistan."

Several thousand British people have volunteered to cast their ballot for a candidate chosen by a person living in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, or Ghana.

May Abdalla helped set up the "Give Your Vote" project. She describes how the voting works:

"Anybody in these three countries can text a local number with how they want to vote and then on election day somebody in the U.K. will receive that text message and carry out that vote on their behalf," said May Abdalla.

Abdalla is part of a group called Egality, which started up "Give Your Vote" because they think everyone in the world should have an equal say in the issues that affect them.

Abdalla says Bangladesh, Ghana, and Afghanistan were chosen because of the importance for them of Britain's decisions on climate change, agricultural subsidies, and war.

With a global electorate, says Abdallah, politicians will have to think twice about their policies.

"The difference between the parties are symbolic of who those parties represent," said Abdalla. "As long as they are representing only U.K. interests their policies are focused towards the people who will be voting in that election. So it is through expanding that electorate that you are expanding the policies."

VOA asked a few Londoners if they would be willing to give their vote away.

"I think it is important to use my vote for myself, but I think there are plenty of other people out there who would be more than willing to give their vote away," said one. "Given, I guess, how few people voted in the last elections, I am sure there are lots of people willing to give a vote away."

"I think so, yes, I would," said another.

"No I would not I think it is quite important that the people of this country vote for who they want to be in power within our own country," said still another.

But one person who will be giving her vote is 23-year-old Fanny James. She says she is not losing out.

"It is like a shared vote rather than my own vote because it is still me casting a vote in my name, I am just taking on board someone else's situation," said Fanny James.

James says she lives in a world where economies, war and climate work on a global scale - and she thinks politics should too.

"Our democracy is completely national and is maintained on a really national scale and it seems like that has not really evolved with the rest of the world," said James.

And Britain is not the only country to have fans like Fanny James. May Abdallah, from Give Your Vote, says people from all over the world, including Italy, the United States, and Israel have said they plan to bring the program to their own country.

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