Global voting, global policing

by Yule Heibel on September 5, 2004

Several months ago, the husband and I sent off our requests for absentee voter ballots to the Registrar at City Hall in Beverly, Massachusetts. We still haven’t heard back from them, and on Tuesday we’ll have to phone the clerk in charge to ask about the status of our paperwork. We’re both first-time US election voters, since we didn’t become US citizens until just after the 2000 election. Perhaps it’s our “newbie” status that has caused the unexplained delay, but we’ll get that ballot yet. Meanwhile, here on Vancouver Island, Susan Mullen — a Chicagoan who moved to Victoria five years ago — is leading a drive to get every expat registered to vote.

“This is the most important election in my lifetime,” Mullen said. “This is the election that is going to decide what kind of America we are going to have.”

After contacting the Democrats Abroad chapter in Vancouver to see if she could volunteer on the Island, Mullen was shocked to find out not only was there not a chapter on the Island, but that because of logistical reasons, the Vancouver chapter would not be holding any registration drives in the Capital Region.

Six states were decided by less than 7,500 votes in 2000. Five other states were decided by less than 50,000 votes. If a majority of Americans residing in Canada were to vote in November, it would represent a larger turnout than the combined votes cast in eight states and the District of Columbia, Mullen said, so she decided to bring out Islanders to vote.

“I have even registered Republicans,” Mullen said, “because that’s my idea of how democracy works.” [emphasis added]

(…) … Kelli Wight co-chair of Republicans Abroad Canada said they have no chapters in B.C. and that they have been concentrating their efforts in Alberta and Ontario where they have a higher, and more conservative population. She also said that Canada has the highest US expat population behind only Mexico and that unlike most other countries, Canada has a much higher Democratic population. [More…]

If you’re an American living abroad and are considering voting Democrat, visit Democrats Abroad.


On a somewhat related note: do Americans incarcerated in Canadian jails vote? They should, I would think. Betty Krawczyk and Tre Arrow, also known as Michael Scarpitti, are two Americans in Canada who have been in the environment news lately:

Since August, 2002, the FBI has wanted Arrow in connection with two fires which it considers terrorism, a powerful word in the post-9/11 world. In Canada, our own anti-terrorist force, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), has helped the FBI look into his activities and contacts here.

Not that INSET can take credit for his arrest. A security contractor caught Arrow, and officers in Victoria’s municipal police department did the legwork of questioning him, taking his fingerprints, matching them to Scarpitti’s on the FBI’s most wanted list and establishing his identity. INSET got involved relatively late in the game. Still, that involvement raises questions about what INSET is doing, how it works with its counterparts in the United States, and what is considered “terrorism.”
While the FBI is investigating Arrow as a terrorist, it has yet to officially charge him with terrorism. The charges he faces, according to the FBI, include “use of fire to commit a felony, destruction of vehicles used in interstate commerce by means of fire, interference with commerce by violence, [and] use of an incendiary destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.” But not terrorism.
That the Canadian anti-terrorist forces would be pulled in to work on such a case and look into Arrow’s activities and contacts here is disturbing, says Murray Mollard, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

“We’re dealing essentially with a garden variety criminal who has some political motivation behind what he’s done,” says Mollard. “It doesn’t strike me you need INSET to deal with any threats from this kind of individual.” While the civil liberties group doesn’t defend the crimes, Mollard says, property damage where nobody is harmed is not even close to being in the league of what most people would consider terrorism.

“From day one when we were debating Bill C-36 our concern was the government in Canada was losing sight of what we mean by terrorism,” says Mollard. After September 11, he says, when the new security legislation was rushed through, people had a pretty clear idea that the bill was about “big ticket violence” where civilians were being targeted. “That was what Bill C-36 was all about . . . what was lost was a debate about what we would be opening here.” [From a Monday Magazine article by staff writer Andrew MacLeod, see here for more, although the link might might soon deteriorate…]

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