U.S. expats encouraged by registered voters in Atlantic Canada

·3 min read
U.S. expats encouraged by registered voters in Atlantic Canada
U.S. expats encouraged by registered voters in Atlantic Canada

U.S. expats living in Atlantic Canada say while they are watching the presidential election with trepidation, they feel encouraged by the number of Americans living on the East Coast who've cast ballots.

Riley Nielson moved to Halifax from Florida during Donald Trump's first term as president in order to study at Dalhousie University.

In 2019, they started the first Atlantic Canadian chapter of Democrats Abroad, a group that works to help left-leaning Americans vote while living outside of the U.S. There is also a Republican-led voting organization called Republicans Overseas.

In the four Atlantic provinces, there are about 1,100 registered members of Democrats Abroad.

Submitted by Riley Nielson
Submitted by Riley Nielson

"It was to help build a sense of community," Nielson told CBC Radio's Information Morning about starting the Atlantic chapter.

"I knew that the 2020 election was coming up and we really needed to build a coalition going into the election. And what better way to do it than to create a group that already had a little bit of infrastructure and build off of that."

Michelle Sinville and her husband moved to Dartmouth in 2018 from New Hampshire. Sinville first heard about the group through word of mouth and wanted to help Americans exercise their right to vote.

Sinville said there's been a lot of interest in voting this year and has helped a few friends vote from abroad.

"One of my friends, unfortunately, never received her ballot. So I worked with her to fill out the federal write-in absentee ballot and we got that sent in. So her vote will count in Ohio," Sinville told Information Morning.

"But I've seen a lot of engagement. I'm really encouraged."

Sinville said she's more concerned about what happens after the results come in — especially if Trump loses.

"Is he going to leave? That's my main concern. My worry is that he's going to flood the States with legal challenges. And results are just going to be drawn out for weeks or months. There's going to be a lot of uncertainty."

Nielson was feeling anxious on Tuesday morning and described the whole election campaign as overwhelming.

Michael Probst/AP
Michael Probst/AP

"I have family back in the States in south Florida, which has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. And watching this administration's policies really fail my former community has been very stressful," Nielson said.

"And as someone who actively lost rights under this administration, as a member of the LGBT community, this campaign has been very emotional for me and very personal for me and very hard to watch."

Both Nielson and Sinville say while Joe Biden was not their first choice for the Democratic nominee, they are both ready to stand behind him this election.

WATCH | A U.S. presidential election battle is being fought on Canadian soil

But even while living abroad, Nielson said they are still hoping to see an overhaul to American society.

"If we can't address America's issues with race, with queerness, with immigration, we wouldn't learn anything from the presidency," Nielson said.

"But it's not just Trump. It's a systemic issue. It's a countrywide issue."