U.S. voters in Toronto set for close presidential race with just days to go

Some mailed their votes weeks ago, and now U.S. and dual citizens living in Toronto are preparing for a close presidential race that will have consequences in this country too.

Toronto is home to 78,371 people who are eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election, according the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Tyler Thom is one of them. The American citizen has been living in Toronto since 2018 and is a Canadian resident. Originally from Wisconsin, the 32 year-old mailed his ballot to his home state.

“I’m nervous,” Thom said in an interview. “Regardless of the outcome.”

Thom says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and frayed race relations continue to make the United States a deeply divided country. He believes Democratic nominees for president and vice president, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, will be able to bring Americans together.

Immigration, health care, key issues

“No one is listening to each other right now,” he said. “I talk to my friends and family. A lot are legitimately scared. It sounds like it’s the start of civil war. I don’t want to be alarmist, but regardless of the election, there are tough times ahead.”

Thom also worries about the current administration’s attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He says some of his family members could be affected by changes to their health care.

Married couple Eddie Fernandez and Tyler Thom are now permanent residents in Canada after moving from Wisconsin to Toronto last year. Fernandez, left, who is originally from Mexico, was living undocumented in the United States and feared deportation. (Paul Borkwood/CBC News)

As well, immigration is a major issue for him. Thom came to Canada after his husband, who is Mexican, was denied residency status in the United States.

“I’m very frustrated with the U.S. immigration system. Trump has done nothing to make it better. He’s only incited more racism and more fear,” Thom said.

Republican focused on fiscal policy

Mark Feigenbaum, a lawyer and dual citizen based in Toronto, is also getting anxious about the election results. But the long-time Republican and chairman of Republicans Overseas Canada is hoping for another four years for President Donald Trump.

Feigenbaum, who grew up in Los Angeles and specializes in cross-border tax law, says he focuses on fiscal issues as a voter, and less on Trump’s personality and policy moves made in other areas.

Mark Feigenbaum is a Toronto lawyer and the chair of the Canadian chapter of ‘Republicans Overseas.’ He votes in California. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

“My Republican tendencies lean towards the fiscal side — lower taxes, smaller government, less regulation — and less on the social side. I saw what vice president Biden’s plan was in the debates and I don’t think that’s the right path,” Feigenbaum said.

According to the research done after the 2016 presidential election by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, there are more than 620,000 people eligible to vote in U.S. elections living in Canada.

Interest in Democrats Abroad

Dianna English, a Toronto resident and volunteer communications officer with Democrats Abroad, says voters living in Canada could actually influence the outcome of the election in key swing states, such as Michigan.

“We do have the capacity to turn key elections if we get out and vote,” English said.

Getting the vote out in Canada has not been easy for any party. Just five per cent of people living in Canada eligible to vote in the U.S. election four years ago cast absentee ballots.

English believes that will change this year, at least for Democrats based in Canada. She says Democrats Abroad has experienced a 35-per-cent increase in membership this year and that membership has grown by 90 per cent since 2016.

English adds that web traffic to votefromabroad.org, which assists expatriate voters, is up this year as well.

She believes that the impact of the Trump presidency has been global and the results of this election will matter to US citizens no matter where in the world they live.

“Americans know that the effects of a second Trump term aren’t going to stop at the border,” English said.

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