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Americans in Whistler watching U.S. election

Local politicians had hoped to cast ballots for Kerry



Matt Saver has never missed voting in an American presidential election.

And so, two weeks ago, from the comfort of his Whistler home, Saver and his wife filled out their absentee ballots for the 2004 election and mailed them back to the Los Angeles County Recorder.

It was the first time he had voted for an American president while outside of the country but he felt it was important to make his vote count.

"It’s easy to say ‘what’s one vote? It’s not going to make a big difference,’" said Saver, who divides his time between his new Whistler home and his home in L.A.

"But when you see what happened four years ago, it kind of teaches you that every vote does count."

Americans will be going to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to choose their next president. In the meantime, Americans living abroad have been coming out of the woodwork like never before to make their voices heard this time around.

By all accounts it will be a close race between Republican George Bush and Democrat John Kerry, mimicking the close call four years ago.

Official counts in the presidential election in 2000, put Bush above Democrat Al Gore by 537 votes in Florida.

Those voting results did not become final until after all the overseas votes were tallied, a factor which has played a significant role in enticing Americans abroad to vote this year.

"Seeing how we got George Bush by I think 500 votes in Florida last election and there was such a big fight over ‘chads’ and some of the absentee ballots and the military ballots, no one until then really realized how close an election could be," said Saver.

"So every vote really does count."

Estimates point to roughly 500,000 Americans living in Canada with just under half of them (about 200,000) living in B.C. Throughout the spring and the summer, Democrat and Republican organization have been fighting for those potential votes in Canada.

"We have been trying to find U.S. and U.S./Canadian dual citizens who need to know that they have the right to vote in the U.S. and help them to get registered," said Karen Funt, chair of the B.C. Chapter of Democrats Abroad Canada via e-mail.

There was no B.C. representative to speak on behalf of the Republicans Abroad Canada.

"The reality is most of the requests we’ve gotten (for voter registration)… have been from Ontario and Alberta," said Kelli Wight, a volunteer with Republicans Abroad Canada, from the Toronto office.