US expat activists hoping expat voters will tip the election

Published:  20 Sep at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Canada, Citizenship
As polls continue to predict a tight finish for the US presidential election, activists on both sides believe expat voters can make all the difference.

Expat Americans living overseas are a massive, mostly untapped reservoir of voters numbering in their millions, the majority of whom rarely, if ever, bother to vote. Activists from both the Democrat and Republican camps are beginning to believe organising the expat vote may be the key to the final result.

Over eight million US citizens are domiciled overseas, with a large number working or retiring in neighbouring Canada and another huge diaspora settled in Mexico and other Central American states. Online activist network Avaaz recently launched an anti-Trump campaign in the hope that Americans overseas would take the situation seriously and vote. One major problem in getting US expats to cast their vote is the hassle of registering and actually casting their absentee ballots before the various state deadlines expire.

Avaaz’s website now boasts an online tool which enables potential overseas voters to register and note the expiry date in their home state. Since the tool was launched, it’s received two million visits. It’s thought one reason for expat reluctance to vote is the threat of being exposed to scrutiny by the IRS. However, registering to vote involves each individual state rather than federally.

Avaaz deputy director Emma Ruby-Sachs sees Trump as a global threat, with the site’s innovative global ‘get-out-and-vote’ efforts one answer to the anti-Trump terror felt by US citizens both overseas and in the home country. Lawyer Mark Feigenbaum, now living in Canada, votes regularly in presidential elections and considers that what goes down in Washington affects not only the USA but the rest of the world as well. He’s chairperson of Republicans Overseas, and believes the election will be a tight race.
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