The 7.5 million Americans living outside the United States do not have to be mere spectators of the electoral process.
Some Democratic Party members are voting in Thailand to coincide with the "Super Tuesday" balloting back home, some 13,000 kilometers from the Pacific shores of the continental United States.
The Democrats, through Friday at several locations in Thailand, are casting ballots to determine who the 13 delegates from their overseas organization will support at the party’s national convention.
“A lot of places in the developing world they’re fighting to have this opportunity. For me to squander this opportunity would set a bad example. So I’m here doing my part,” said Clyde Kakazu, who cast his ballot Wednesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand.
After the first day of balloting at the correspondents' club polling station, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 82 votes to 55, with one uncommitted vote.
Thailand is one of 39 countries where Democrats Abroad are holding primaries through March 8.
Representatives of Republicans Overseas, which has 50 chapters worldwide, said their organization had not established voting stations in Thailand but registered Republicans can ask for absentee ballots from their home state.
“It’s a very inclusive process and good for the 7.5 million expats who are passionate about politics and interested in their next president,” said Matthew Hays, country director in Thailand for the International Republican Institute.
Hays and officials of Democrats Abroad Thailand spoke about the Super Tuesday process at a U.S. Embassy-sponsored event held Wednesday morning at a branch of an upscale American cafe in a Bangkok office building.
Thai citizens — who ironically cannot presently vote in their own country — were invited to participate in a mock American presidential election.
Sixty-five votes were casts in the multiparty mixed balloting with Clinton prevailing with 34 votes. Sanders was runner-up with 23 votes, surpassing Republican billionaire Donald Trump who garnered six votes. Republican retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, also a physician, each received one vote.
For the U.S. ambassador there is something quite personal at stake with the real results in November’s general election.
“All ambassadors around the world will, once the election happens, will submit their resignations because it is up to the new president of the United States to decide whom to appoint to these various jobs,” Ambassador Glyn Davies told VOA.
Until then, part of the envoy’s job will be diplomatically advocating the merits of democracy in a kingdom run by a military junta that has suspended the electoral process.
“The government here has committed to a return to civilian elected government and democracy,” Davies said in response to a question from a Thai reporter. “We’d like to see Thailand get back to elected government as soon as possible. Everybody has made that clear, including our president.”