Don’t just vote! Keep demanding fair treatment from Washington!

An A.M. Costa Rica editorial

Overseas Americans have been faced with challenges generated by the U.S. Congress. Even though there are organizations that work on behalf of U.S. Expats and an Americans Abroad Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, most expats says they can have little impact on national politics.

Democrats Abroad noted this week that U.S. voters here have a chance to pick 13 delegates to the Democratic National convention in July. But even though the two Democratic presidential candidates have discussed expat issues, the topics are not high on the priority list.

That also is true for many expats. How many know about the same country exception or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act? How about the new law to revoke the passports of citizens who owe a lot of income tax? These are vital issues that can affect the expat lifestyle. Failure to comply could even mean jail.

Although Democrats Abroad is trying to influence the top national office, there are 435 representatives and 100 senators. All of them have to run for election. And some plan to become expats in Costa Rica themselves when they retire.

Most U.S. expats arrived in Costa Rica from someplace in the United States. They still are entitled to vote in that district. Politicians are extremely attentive to those who vote.

A quick check of Senate and House member Web pages show that the main concern are voters in the home district.

Richard Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, makes it clear on his email page: “Due to the high volume of correspondence, only Illinois residents will receive a direct reply. If you are not from Illinois, I appreciate your understanding and thank you for your comments.”

Other members of Congress are using Web contact forms that do not provide for an overseas address. Some do not even accommodate military addresses.

Every representative and a third of the U.S. Senate face election in November.

We would encourage U.S. expats here to drop an email to the senators from their state and the House member from their district. Names and Web pages are found easily via a search engine.

We would encourage Expats to say via email:

“I may be overseas, but I vote, and so does my family and friends in your district.”

Most of the expat issues are non-partisan, so declaring a party affiliation is not necessary. American will do just fine.

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