As results from the 2020 U.S. general election trickled in on Thursday, it appeared that the final fate of the next president rested in the hands of millions of voters who cast their votes via absentee balloting.
Among those millions were up to 623,000 eligible voters living in Canada, according to Giles Hogya, Acting Chair, Democrats Abroad Victoria and the Islands.
Hogya says his organization personally contacted nearly 1,900 voters around Victoria and Vancouver Island, encouraging them to exercise their democratic rights from a distance.
“I would say it has been a 99 per cent easy experience for them,” Hogya said in an interview with Victoria Buzz.
That sentiment was echoed by the majority of voters who got in touch with Victoria Buzz to share their experience voting abroad in the 2020 election.
Liz Lewis, who has lived in Victoria since 2018 and voted in her home state of Oregon, said the process was “super easy,” and described absentee balloting as a “natural extension” of normal voting practices.
Fellow Oregonian Felix Mann, who enrolled at UVic this year, mostly agrees.
“I found the voting process a little confusing, but using the website www.democratsabroad.org I was able to get what I needed and registered with my state,” Mann wrote in an email to Victoria Buzz.
“I definitely think that the process is a little more complicated than it needs to be, but it wasn’t a huge hassle.”
Washington native Heidi Morrison, who moved to Victoria in 2004, says she found the process easy, and mostly credits her state and country representatives for that.
“The absentee ballot process in Washington State is really easy,” Morrison wrote in an email to Victoria Buzz.
“I used to have the ballot sent to me by mail, but the last 2 elections I’ve printed the ballot directly from their online system.”
Hogya says that the only issues he heard about personally involved people who were somewhat confused about how to return ballots.
He says that for this election and for future elections, Americans abroad can find a tailor-made app to help them register to vote and cast their ballot at votefromabroad.org.
The Victoria branch of Democrats Abroad also moved quickly and early in the election to encourage U.S. citizens in and around Victoria to vote, taking out ads, running phone campaigns, and distributing e-newsletters.
Voters were enthusiastic to join Democrats Abroad in Victoria during this election, too.
“500 joined within the last couple of years,” said Hogya. “Every election we get a big bump, but nothing like this.”
He admits that living in Canada has made him envious of the federalized election system used up north.
“I actually think the Parliamentary system is better,” Hogya said.
“The one thing I really like about the Canadian system is that the Federal election is run by the Feds. In the States, each state has its own idiosyncratic things. I think it’s a flaw. I’ve never understood the electoral college.”
Despite the flaws he sees in the U.S. system, Hogya says he isn’t worried about the legitimacy or results of the election.
“Am I worried? No. I have faith in the States, that they are going to count every vote.”
Republicans Abroad, a similar organization to Democrats Abroad, disbanded in 2013.