Expats keep close watch on election

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 08:30 03/11/2012

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Having already cast their votes, Americans living in Manawatu are watching closely the run in to the Presidential election in their homeland.

On Wednesday (New Zealand time) either incumbent Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney will be elected the United States' president for the next four years.

Self-described political junkie Cat Pause said though she would be away from home on Wednesday she would be glued to her smartphone.

Registered as a voter in Texas, Dr Pause voted for Obama but acknowledged the state would almost certainly be won by Romney. However, there was never any doubt the Massey University lecturer would vote.

"As a woman we have only legally been able to vote for 100 years now. I definitely think it's important to exercise the right that was so hard fought for me."

Dr Pause said there was a stark difference between the Republican and Democrat parties, and in particular their presidential candidates in 2012.

She said she felt better connected with what was happening politically now than when she lived in the US during the 2008 election.

She had been able to watch the presidential debates and party conferences on the internet.

Peter Petrucci also cast his postal ballot in Texas, but for a third-party candidate, not for Obama or Romney.

A senior lecturer in linguistics at Massey University, Dr Petrucci said as Romney was going to win Texas regardless, his vote was a protest against the electoral college system.

In that system the highest-polling candidate in a state wins that state's share of electoral college votes. The number of votes per state is dependant on its population and the candidate with a majority of electoral college votes wins.

Dr Petrucci said this put an unfair focus on swing states, such as Ohio.

"If I were voting in a state like Ohio I would vote for Obama [but] because I'm voting in a state where my vote doesn't count I voted for a third-party candidate."

In the final weeks of the campaign swing states had been bombarded with advertising and visits by the candidates when safe seats, be they Republican or Democrat were ignored.

"Things at the end of the contest get a little bit distorted. I have nothing against Ohio, I was born there, but I don't like one state getting all of the attention."

Dr Petrucci moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and said he still voted in American presidential elections because he had the right to, but said he did not vote in local body elections in Texas as he was not up to speed with the issues there.

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- Manawatu Standard

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