I am not an Israeli-American, but I know many who are, and they will make a difference in the 2016 presidential election.
We all remember the 2000 election in Florida and the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case that followed. In 2000, the Sunshine State's electoral votes were determined by 537 Floridians.
More recently though, in 2012, Florida was won by President Obama by a small margin. President Obama took the election with 50 percent of the vote as compared to Mitt Romney’s 49.1 percent — an actual vote differential of 73,189 votes
. That same year, Gary Johnson received nearly 45,000 votes and he is polling far better in 2016.
According to the 2012 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act Report
, Florida transmitted 115,114 total ballots to such voters during the last presidential election. This was more than any other state. And many of those votes were counted after Election Day. The Florida state result was called on November 10, 2012, rather than on Election Day that year, which was November 6.
These ballots didn’t just go to Israel. They went to all eligible Americans overseas. Florida’s Jewish population is approximately 636,000
, however, which makes it the third most populous American state for Jewish-Americans — behind only New York and California, respectively. But New York and California are solid Democratic states — Florida is not. Before Obama’s two victories, Florida went for President George W. Bush.
The Republican and Democratic parties are actively courting American citizens living in Israel and Israeli-Americans. Arguably the GOP is doing a better job of it so far this election cycle. Five separate Republicans Overseas Israel offices are open to register and engage Israeli-Americans to vote — including one office in the West Bank
(Judea and Samaria), which is the first such office in the Jewish state’s disputed territories, outside of Israel’s 1967 borders, promoting an American election.
Although I am not an Israeli-American, I regularly travel to Israel. This has somehow got me on email lists promoting Donald Trump’s candidacy to Israeli-Americans. Although I am a registered Democrat in D.C., and even though I identify as an Independent now, I recently received the first of what I expect will be many messages targeting Israeli-Americans as early voting and overseas voting begins in Israel, as well as other countries worldwide.
November 8 is Election Day, but it should be known as the last day to vote rather than the only day to vote. Many states provide opportunities for casting both early and overseas ballots, and Americans of all faiths living, working, or studying in Israel have a right to vote and their voices will be heard in this election.
Jason Langsner is an active member of the American Jewish professional community. Langsner formerly ran the digital strategy for B'nai B'rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, and participated in the Israel Diplomatic Fellowship program at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. He has been featured in The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, the Israel Video Network, Washington Jewish Week, eJewishPhilanthropy.com, and other publications. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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