The last stage of the American presidential elections has seen the often overlooked constituency overseas Americans turning out in higher numbers than ever before to register to vote. There has never been an official census of the US population abroad but it is estimated that there are 4.7 million Americans living overseas, with 49,000 possessing a permesso di soggiorno in Italy in 2003.

Four organisations have been helping to register US citizens abroad: Democrats Abroad, Republicans Abroad, American Overseas for Kerry (AOK), Overseasvote2004 (the first online registration) and Tellanamericantovote.com. Both the Democrats Abroad in Italy and the Republicans Abroad in Italy have set up registration stations around the country since February.

In Rome, Brenda Pearson of Democrats Abroad believes that Democrats Abroad in Italy have assisted over 21,000 people to register, compared with only 1,000 at the last elections.

Nancy Galan, of the Republicans Abroad in Italy, says that her organisation has also seen a marked increase in interest in this years elections, especially by individuals via email, but she was unable to give any precise figures about registrations. For more information see www.overseasvote2004.com and www.fvap.gov.

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