The US presidential election is on 8 November 2016. Overseas voters from some US states have only until 8 October to register. A full list of state registration dates can be found here.
Most recent polls put Democratic contender Hillary Clinton in the lead, however a 12 September poll by the Los Angeles Times shows Clinton and Trump almost tied, with Trump leading by a clear margin among those over 65 (49.1% vs 43.7%), those on middle incomes of between US$ 35 and US$ 75k (50.6% vs 37.0%), and those with no college education (48.8% vs 42.7%). While Clinton leads among younger voters under 35 (45.2% vs 39.9%), those earning less than US$35k (54.2% vs 34.1%), and those with a college education (50.9% vs 30.7%).
After the UK’s Brexit vote, it is more difficult to trust poll results. Ahead of the vote, most polls and betting shops predicted a majority would vote to remain in the EU, but the result was the opposite. The Brexit vote also showed how differing voter turnout can affect the results. According to the Guardian, only 64% of young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted, compared to 90% of over 65s. Given the voting divide between these groups, more younger voters might has swung the vote the other way – it is thought that 75% of young voters voted to remain.
In addition, the US electoral college system means general polls are a poor guide to election outcomes.
There are no concrete numbers on how many Americans live abroad, but the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO) puts the number at between 7 and 8 million, equivalent to the combined populations of Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. If they were a state it would be the 13th most populous.
According to Switzerland’s statistics office there were 21,616 US citizens in Switzerland in 2015.
According to AARO, overseas Americans have historically had higher voter participation rates than their US-based compatriots, representing around 3% of all votes cast. The Overseas Vote Foundation on the other hand thinks overseas voter participation is lower than for those in the US. In a survey done by the Overseas Vote Foundation, the most common reason for overseas Americans failing to vote, was missing state voting registration deadlines. 29.7% of survey respondents encountered this issue.
The petition website Avaaz, has created a tool to help people register and spread the word.
For Swiss-based Americans hoping to vote, who have yet to register, the clock is ticking.