A study released Wednesday, described as the first of its kind, has found what political scientists have long suspected: Most American expatriates don’t vote in U.S. elections. The study by the Federal Voting Assistance Program found that voting rates for all estimated 2.6 million eligible overseas voters, excluding servicemembers and their spouses, was 4 percent in 2014. That compares to 36 percent of eligible voters in the U.S. and, according to a previous study by the FVAP, 21 percent of eligible active-duty military voters who mailed in ballots in 2014. “While we can expect to see an increase in the overall voting rates for the 2016 presidential election, we need to understand whether the overall rate for 2014 is due to low awareness of how to vote absentee or if it is related to other factors,” FVAP Director Matt Boehmer said in a news release.
The top three reasons for not voting, according to a group of citizens abroad FVAP surveyed, were difficulties with absentee voting, feeling out of touch with the national or local community and no candidate preference, according to the study, which FVAP said was the first of U.S. expatriates’ voting behaviors.
Trying to suss out voting rates for that group is a challenge largely because there is no comprehensive list of all U.S. citizens living overseas.
FVAP used data from foreign countries, U.S. government administrative sources and academic studies to estimate the number of Americans eligible to vote in countries around the world.