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Madrid City in English
Wednesday 21st of November 2018
Kelly Rummel 1210 10th of October 2012 by PollyRose 10th of October 2012
The rhythm and the referendum

With Madrid hosting the first “Rock the Vote” event outside the USA, Kelly Rummel pays a visit to experience the political and musical pulse.

“Rock the Vote” originated in 1992 as an effort to engage young American voters through the use of music, pop-culture, and more recently, social networking. The project aims to motivate and mobilise the millennial generation which now accounts for 25% of the American electorate. To date, “Rock the Vote” has registered more than five million voters in the US and, fortunately for expats in Madrid, the Spanish capital was chosen for its inaugural oversees event, held at Teatro Kapital.

Taking positions
The organisation falls on the shoulders of the American Club of Madrid, whose mission is to enhance the good relations between Spain and the United States, and upon arrival the crowd is already made up of a healthy display of young American enthusiasm with a welcome Madrid flair. There’s an opening address from US Ambassador Alan D. Solomont, looking distinctly relaxed in his jeans and a politically neutral yellow button-down shirt. “Nobody is elected President without the support of millions of Americans who participate actively in the campaign, through contributing time, money or, most importantly, putting their vote in the voting box,” he says. “It’s estimated that between three and five million American voters live outside the US. These people have been enough to change the direction of the popular vote in three of the six Presidential elections in which I’ve taken part.”
    After an introduction to the debate format by moderator Gayle Allard, a professor at the Instituto de Empresa, the discussion is lively, with the Republicans represented by Clara del Villar, and the democrats by Joe Hurd, both of whom can boast a wealth of business experience. They are posed three long-answer questions concerning the US economy, healthcare, and the environment, followed by a “speed round” with questions from young Americans living in Madrid, tackling campaign finance, student debt, immigration and foreign policy. While Hurd seems to have a slight upper-hand due to the crowd’s demographic, Del Villar holds her own and ultimately both are warmly received. What the representatives unequivocally agree on is the necessity of voting.

Register and rock
This year the absentee ballot may be more important than ever. With projections that the 2012 election could be as close as that of Bush and Gore in 2000, Americans living abroad could have an important say in the future of the United States. Democratic representative Joe Hurd estimates the election will come down to a sway of approximately 1.5 million votes. “The expat vote is very important,” he insists, “despite the common notion that absentee ballots don’t really count for much.” The event attendance exceeds expectations at 1,600 people, and following the debate, voter registration begins.
    The theme then swings from politics to music, with storming live concerts by rock bands Sala and the Strange Sounds and Showpay, both of whom perform with boundless energy and to great audience appreciation. DJs then take us into the early hours.
    What does this mean for any American expat? Essentially, your vote matters, and the world—particularly Madrid in light of this event—will be watching the States very closely come 6 November.

For information on how to cast an absentee ballot go to

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