In Lewisham, a long way from my US home, I cast my vote for Biden in the Michigan primary

Smith after voting for the first time. Pic: Ella Smith

One of our Eastlondonlines reporters, Ella Smith, moved to Lewisham to study at Goldsmiths, University of London and has been discovering all the things that come along with that. Here’s her story.

Moving abroad is a unique challenge in many ways; one of those ways is figuring out how you’re going to vote while outside of your home country. There have been 46 presidents in United States history since the first election in 1788.

When I relocated to London two years ago, voting wasn’t a top priority amid the flurry of adjustments. However, in February, political advertisements flooded my view, urging me to consider various candidates.

Early experiences

In 2022, my first year in London, I was able to vote for the first time, but there was no presidential election to participate in. However, there were local elections in my hometown, Traverse City, Michigan.

Voting in those was straightforward; I researched candidates online, aligned their views with mine, and made my choices.

However, this year has proven to be more complicated.

This marks my first opportunity to vote in a presidential election, adding pressure to select the candidate best suited to lead the country.

Michigan’s primaries occurred on February 27, but my ballot arrived about a month earlier to ensure a timely return to Michigan.

Primaries precede the general election, where political parties choose their candidates.

Michigan practices an ‘open primary,’ allowing voting across party lines, unlike ‘closed primaries’ requiring party affiliation.

The Decision

While looking over my ballot, I deliberated for a long time. While leaning Democrat, I hesitated to support Joe Biden due to concerns about his handling of the Israel-Palestine conflict. On the ballot were Biden, Marianne Williamson, and Dean Phillips.

Unfamiliar with Williamson and Phillips, I researched them.

Phillips initially appealed to me until I learned of his intention to appoint tech moguls to his cabinet. Wanting competent officials, I reconsidered. Williamson, though strong on issues I support, dropped out after the Nevada primary.

I was reluctant to vote for Biden, so I consulted my family, who, despite differing views, preferred him over Donald Trump. My grandmother’s fear of another Trump term cemented my decision:

“I don’t really want to [vote for him] either, but the idea of Trump being in office again is enough to scare me into voting for Biden a million more times.” 

As I marked the ballot for Biden, I felt relief mixed with apprehension. Weeks later, a social media campaign urged voting ‘Uncommitted’ to protest Biden’s stance on Israel.

I had already sent off my ballot, and I was upset that I wouldn’t get the chance to stand for something I agreed with. I still am upset now, but I’ve been able to feel better knowing that so many of my peers and friends voted ‘Uncommitted’ to show the president that we disagree with his stance and that he needs to say something to end the violence. 

100,000 people voted ‘Uncommitted’ in this election, while in 2020 only 19,106 did. Pic: Element5 Digital/Unsplash

Primary Results

Michigan’s Democratic primaries favoured Biden, followed by ‘Uncommitted,’ Williamson, and Phillips. In the Republican primaries, Donald Trump led, followed by Nikki Haley, then ‘Uncommitted,’ and Ron DeSantis.

Reflecting on my choice, I realised that despite being in London, my vote remained significant. The path to casting my primary ballot mirrored the complexities of politics itself. And come November, I’ll vote in a presidential election for the first time, even from across the Atlantic.

One Response

  1. Mary Coon March 2, 2024

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