Who Does Edward Snowden Support For President? The Famous Whistleblower Can Still Vote For His Choice
Americans living abroad tend to have special point of view on U.S. elections. Things like taxes, immigration, and even voting rights can all affect you a little differently from thousands of miles away. There's one American, though, in particular who has a stake in the outcome of the 2016 election: Edward Snowden. He's what you might call a single-issue voter. He's jonesing for America after nearly three years in exile in Russia and said he would turn himself in on negotiated terms. The next president could make that happen — or not. So who would Edward Snowden vote for?
First off, if you're thinking his run from the law would make him ineligible to vote, you're wrong. He faces espionage charges for leaking the classified NSA documents that proved the government agency was collecting telephone records on millions of American citizens — not to mention their internet data through program that tapped into the servers of big firms like Google and Yahoo. He hasn't been convicted of anything yet, though, and his lawyers say there's no precedent to stop him from casting his ballot.
Snowden's lawyer, Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, explained to The Daily Dot:
There's no legal basis whatsoever for depriving Edward Snowden of the right to vote. He's been convicted of no crime, much less one that would strip him of his civil rights.
So he'll likely be voting absentee from Russia this year — unless Obama makes a bold move to bring him home, and that's not looking likely. It's unknown where he's registered to vote. He was born in North Carolina, but was living in Hawaii when he fled to Hong Kong and then Russia after releasing the documents.
Assuming he was registered in Hawaii, he probably missed out on the primaries because Hawaii is a caucus state. You can't vote by absentee in either the Republican or Democratic caucuses. The Democratic caucus was held March 26, and Bernie Sanders won nearly 70 percent of the votes. The Republicans voted March 8, and Trump came in first with about 43 percent of the vote.
As for who Snowden would vote for if he could, none of the remaining candidates are truly on his team. His best bet would have probably been Rand Paul, who spoke out against expanded surveillance at many of the GOP debates and after the November Paris attacks. Snowden actually supported his father in the 2008 primary, according to The Guardian, before going on to vote for a third-party candidate.
Since Paul's not an option anymore, among the main candidates, he would probably want to go with Sanders. Certainly, the Republicans are no go: Cruz called what he did "treason" and Trump called him a terrible "traitor," adding, "You know what we used to do to traitors, right?"
Both of the Democrats are more measured, but Clinton said he was not a whistleblower. "He could have been a whistleblower, he could have gotten all the protections of a whistleblower. He chose not to do that," she said during a debate in October. Sanders meanwhile said Snowden ought to face a penalty, but, "what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration."
Sanders' position is certainly not great, but it's much better than Trump's talk of execution and the best option right now. Come November, he'll probably go Democrat — but he could always decide on a third-party candidate. One thing is for sure, though: he should mail in his ballot, not hand-deliver it to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.