«Voting in America» with the Dukakis Center
By Katharine Welch
On Wednesday October 5, the Dukakis Center for Public and Humanitarian Service hosted a round table discussion on “Voting in America” at the U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki. Special guests included Michael Ertel, the Supervisor of Elections for Seminole County, Florida, Charles Stewart III, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT, Rebecca Fong, U.S. Consul General of Thessaloniki, and David Wisner, Professor of International Relations at ACT and Executive Director of the Dukakis Center.
The event consisted of an interesting discussion by a panel of experts about how the electoral system works and what problems they face. Topics covered included the electoral college and alternatives occasionally proposed; voter registration, voter turnout, and early voting; varieties of electoral campaigns; money in politics; negative campaigning; trends in partisanship; and undecided voters and abstention.
The topic of absentee voting sparked an interesting discussion, focusing on the importance of giving a voice to Americans living overseas to express their preference. A debate whether the absentee ballot counts was born, and all speakers highlighted the efforts to make it easier for overseas voters to participate in the election process, for example, via fax machine.
Overall, the discussion was both informative and interesting, for the Americans and the internationals in the audience, who were reminded how much or how little their vote might matter, in a presidential election at least. The event raised important questions about how the electoral system works and what needs to be done to ensure that the voice of the people is heard.
NB Katharine "Katie" Welch is a freshman at Northeastern University majoring in Political Science, studying abroad at ACT. She is from San Francisco, California.