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Super Tuesday: Americans in Europe vote in 'most important election of our lifetimes'

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Super Tuesday: Americans in Europe vote in 'most important election of our lifetimes'
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It’s not just fourteen US states that voted on Super Tuesday. Americans living overseas, in Europe and around the world, are making their voices heard in the Democratic primaries.

Expatriate Americans have 230 voting centres globally where they can cast their vote to try to narrow down the field of candidates in the Democratic party.

And many say that, whether they’re voting with the overseas primary or by absentee ballot in their home states, this is an important election.

Related: Super Tuesday latest results in full

“We’ve seen a huge upswing in the number of new members for Democrats Abroad over the last few weeks,” said Robin Guinot, the communications director of the overseas wing of the Democratic party in France.

Even though they don’t have an estimate of how many people will vote in the primary, “people do need to be a member of Democrats Abroad in order to vote in our primary [so the increase in memberships] is indicative of interest”.

Susan Luger voted in the primary in France: "I feel very strongly we need to do everything as Democrats to beat Trump so that's my main reason to be sure that I'm voting."

For many Americans overseas, it’s also a question of timing. As more Democrats drop out of the race, some voters want to make sure they cast their vote early.

“I’d be voting in Oregon which is May 19 but especially as things change quickly, I’d rather vote quickly instead of waiting till May when [the election] may already have been decided,” said Kelly Blunt, the communications coordinator for Democrats Abroad Lyon.

They also say that their vote could hold more weight in the overseas primary since fewer people will be voting than in their home states.

Americans overseas focus on social issues, environment

"Living in Europe has made me realise how conservative the US is in comparison… it just doesn't offer the same services," said 24-year-old Negin Shahiar who is a student at the University of Oxford.

"Healthcare here is universal and I’ve had access to the NHS as an international student. It makes me really sad that people in the US don’t have the same options as they do in here in the UK."

Luger said she felt the same way in France.

"Healthcare is a big one for me so I see how they struggle with the cost of healthcare and even just accessing healthcare."

Peter Beattie is a professor in Hong Kong and he thinks healthcare and climate change are some of the most important issues to voters overseas.

"I think especially in Democrats Abroad, you’ve got people who are living all over the world, so they have direct experience with government-run or heavy government intervention in healthcare that actually works extremely well whereas people in the US often times have no idea that the rest of the industrialised world already has essentially medicare for all like systems," Beattie said.

Young voters overseas spoke about the cost of education as well.

"As a student, education is an important issue. I'm French and American and in France, education is free. The price in the US is to me important," said David Sklar who is from Lyon.

Matthew Cress also voted in the Lyon primary. The 28-year-old has been living overseas for three years and said he was worried about the student debt he still had in the US.

Most Americans living abroad said they still felt connected to politics there, whether they had been overseas for a year or for 40 years.

"I see this as a really important election, maybe the most important in our lifetimes because we’ve seen politics shift so rapidly," said Shahiar.

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