Dubai: American expats in the UAE registered to vote via absentee ballot in the November 8 US election are clearly leaning towards one presidential candidate, according to informal polling since August by the American Business Council of Dubai and Northern Emirates.
The polling took place at the new Voters’ Centre set by the business council which is fielding an immensely strong interest given the wide disparity of campaign pledges promised by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and rival Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
In a matter of weeks, more than 100 expats have personally visited the Voters’ Centre to meet business council staff who are helping guide expats through the process of voting while living abroad.
Bilal B. Sabouni, chief executive officer of the business council, told Gulf News in an interview that respondents in the UAE appear to be leaning heavily in favour of one candidate but he didn’t elaborate on which candidate UAE expats appear to strongly favour over another.
“Up to today, we have had nearly 100 people visit our office to register themselves to vote. Through informal polling taken by those willing to disclose their preferred candidate, we can say that the UAE votes cast through our office look to be heavily skewed to one side. We are working closely with our partners and stakeholders to further promote the centre and we expect the number of visitors to rise in the final days ahead of the deadline,” Sabouni said.
“We look to announce more detailed statistics ahead of an Elections Breakfast to be held with the US Consulate on election day, where the American and Emirati community will be welcomed to watch the elections live during the early morning hours of November 9 in Dubai,” Sabouni said.
The business council represents 700 American businesses and employees in the UAE who make up part of an estimated 55,000 US expats living in the country.
“Spirits have been high and overall sentiment has been very positive. This particular US election has evoked a sense of urgency to vote like never before in our recent history. Since first establishing ourselves in Dubai 31 years ago in 1985, we have never seen such demand from our members and the general community. However, despite differences in opinion on which candidate is better qualified, the US elections are always a much anticipated, unifying event, taking place just once every four years, creating a delightful sense of belonging, unity, and connection to our homeland,” Sabouni said.
Fill out your cards
Once a FPCA (Federal Post Card Application) — Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request is filed and then received by an expat voter, UAE expats can send their absentee ballots to their home districts to the US directly or drop off them at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi or US Consulate in Dubai.
“Mail sent through our diplomatic pouch generally takes two weeks to get to Washington, DC, and another week to reach most US counties, so please take this into consideration and be sure to check your state’s specific deadlines to ensure your ballot will be received in time,” said an embassy official.
Absentee ballots should be returned to voter’s home counties no later than four weeks before the election to ensure they are counted.
“If you have not received your requested state ballot by October 4, use the FWAB [website] and submit it [online] immediately,” advises the US voter assistance programme.