Local expats hope to swing US  election, Newsline

Cape Town: In what some America expats have deemed to be the “most consequential election”, the Democrats Abroad South Africa have urged US citizens living in SA to vote.

US citizens living in the country are urged to look up their state’s voting procedures and to follow instructions carefully. This will ensure their ballots are submitted on time and counted.

The US Embassy estimates that there may be up to 30 000 citizens living in South Africa.

Ryan Macauley, who has been living in Cape Town for almost a year, said: “This is perhaps the most consequential election of my generation and for the future of the US. This election is no longer just about the economy and our place in the world, it’s about what we as a nation value. I’m voting because so many died for me to have this fundamental right as a citizen.”

Kirsten Roesch, who has been living in South Africa for 11 years, said: “The decisions and rhetoric that have come out of the current administration have been harmful to Americans at home and abroad, as well as damaging important relationships with the rest of the world. I have voted. I voted to have a say in the next president of the US, as well as the senators, representatives and local leaders in my home state of Colorado.”

Country leader for Democrats Abroad, Elizabeth O’Leary, said overseas voters have the potential to affect this election.

“It’s estimated that there may be 6.5 million eligible American voters living overseas but only 7% actually cast their ballots in 2016. That presidential election was decided by fewer than 80 000 votes, so there is a very real possibility that the overseas vote could decide the 2020 election. Organisations assisting overseas voters are seeing significant increases in activity this year and predict that the overseas vote is set to double.”

Voter protector for the organisation, Leila Akahloun, said US citizens living in South Africa should carefully adhere to the voting instructions for their respective states. “Our democracy and the ideals we hold dear are under grave threat. We are at a critical crossroads and these elections will decide which direction our country takes,” Akahloun said.

While the Republican Party has no chapters in South Africa, a member of Republicans Overseas, David Meredith said: “Our message is to register to vote by absentee ballot and raise awareness with members of Congress about the way Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, in particular, is severely affecting overseas Americans’ ability to have financial arrangements where they live.”