Could The November 3, 2020 US Election Be Decided By Canadian Residents With US/CDN Dual Citizenship?


A recent opinion piece published at CBC included:

I have been walking around these days asking myself with only half a smile whether there is some morphed version of the Canadian national anthem which declares: “True expatriate love in all thy sons and daughters command.”

I am doing this because I have been regularly experiencing what you might call expatriate shaming.

There’s been a push — no, make that a shove — to recruit Americans living in Canada who are eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 presidential election to become part of the electoral process. Knowing I was born in the U.S., my friends, neighbours and relatives will ask with a semi-desperate twinge in their voices: “Have you registered to vote in the U.S. election?” And when I say I am registered but I do not plan to vote, they get very angry.

Given what has been going on under President Donald Trump, they exclaim, how can I even think about not making a difference by casting a presidential ballot? (By the way, no one assumes that an expat could possibly vote for Trump, which is interesting.)

The Push To Get “US Citizens” (Whoever They May Be) Living In Canada To Vote

The Purpose Of This Post

This 2020 US election has been an election like no other. I have never seen an electorate as divided and as hostile toward each other. Gone are the days of 2004 when then Candidate Obama advised:

Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too: We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States, and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

In simple terms, Mr. Obama claimed that what unites Americans is greater than what divides Americans. Although this may still be true, it is not perceived to be true. I suspect that the United States is closer to Civil War, than at any time, since either of the wars which took place on American soil. There is a distrust of democracy. There is a distrust of the electoral process in general and some doubt the accuracy of the voting process.

That said, I fully believe that what would unite ALL Americans (liberals, conservatives, black America, white America, Latino America and Asian Americans) would be the principle that American elections should be decided by Americans and not by activities taking place outside the United States.

No Homelander American would want to wake up to the headline:

Canadian Residents Cast The Decisive Votes In Our U.S. Election!

Yet …

As a resident of Canada, the most interesting aspect of the election, has been to observe the mobilizing of US citizens (a majority who are dual US/Canada citizens), to vote in the US election. Democrats Abroad – the official overseas division of the Democratic Party – has done a masterful job of identifying this potential voting block and reaching out to them. Although I applaud their administrative efficiency, I have serious reservations about the propriety of their action. It’s one thing to target those US citizens in Canada who clearly identify as US citizens. It’s quite another to target any Canadian resident with a claim to a US passport (who is unlikely to be complying with US tax obligations). This is particularly so because, the United States requires, that individuals who were born in the United States and have NOT relinquished US citizenship, to enter the United States with a US passport.

Although US citizens do NOT have a constitutional right to vote*, the eligibility of some Canadian residents to vote in this US election includes:

1. The large number of people who have a technical claim to US citizenship (and do not identify as US citizens) who live in Canada

2. The fact that voting in US elections is determined on a state by state basis. The voting rules of a clear majority of US states that have provisions for nonresident citizens to vote in that state

To be clear, I am NOT questioning the legality of this campaign. I am questioning the moral propriety of a campaign to organize people, who do NOT reside in a country and do not identify as a citizen of that country, to vote in that country.

My reasons fall under the following themes:

1. There are generally good reasons to NOT allow non-residents to vote in elections.

2. Many of those who qualify to vote are U.S. citizens only because they were born in the United States. Other than a US birthplace, they have never had any connection to the United States and do NOT identify as US citizens. (These are the same reasons why they should not be subject to US worldwide taxation.)

3. Does the fact of dual citizenship exacerbate the problem? It wasn’t long ago that neither Canada nor the United States allowed dual citizenship. There is no doubt that divided loyalties was part of the reason. Should US/Canada dual citizens be entitled to vote in a US election? Even if they identify as US citizens they are overwhelmingly dual US/Canada citizens who live in Canada. As Canadian citizens, it would be rational to expect them to vote in the interests of Canada (their country of primary citizenship). The interests of Canada and the United States are not always aligned. Recent examples of non-alignment include:

– the Meng WanZhou extradition hearing which has resulted in the seizure of two Canadians who languish in a Chinese prison; and

– the forceful imposition of FATCA on Canada generally on Canada’s sovereignty, Canada’s banks and Canadian residents with US citizenship

4. In 2011 the Obama administration orchestrated a campaign to alert U.S. citizens in Canada to the fact that they are subject to US worldwide taxation. (A description of what can be described as nothing less than a form of terrorism is detailed here.) The 2011 campaign was reinforced by the 2014 FATCA IGAs. The 2020 campaign to encourage dual citizens to vote in the November 3 election does NOT remind them that:

One the one hand, voting is a clear affirmation of U.S. citizenship; but

On the other hand, US citizens residing in Canada are required to file U.S. taxes (clearly many of them do not).

5. Speaking of U.S. taxation of Canadians and FATCA, the US tax policy of citizenship-based taxation, is essentially forcing U.S. citizens living in Canada to renounce their U.S. citizenship. In other words, the policies of the U.S. Government are forcing dual citizens out of the very citizenship that gives them the right to vote.

In this context, it’s important to note that the Democratic Party has made no commitment (and will not even discuss) a change to these policies. Yet, they are still recruiting Canadian residents with US citizenship to vote (and assume that dual citizens would vote for their Party).

They seek the expat vote, without any understanding and acknowledgement of the FATCA life!

My conclusion …

To mobilize the vote of US citizens living in Canada, many of whom are dual citizens living in Canada, who do NOT particularly identify as being American, is the equivalent of “busing” people in to vote at a leadership or other political convention.

John Richardson – Follow me on Twitter @Expatriationlaw


*Voting Rights In The United States – There Is No Constitutional Right

The issue of voting rights in the United States, specifically the enfranchisement and disenfranchisement of different groups, has been contested throughout United States history.

Eligibility to vote in the United States is established both through the United States Constitution and by state law. Several constitutional amendments (the Fifteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-sixth specifically) require that voting rights of U.S. citizens cannot be abridged on account of race, color, previous condition of servitude, sex, or age for those above 18; the constitution as originally written did not establish any such rights during 1787–1870, except that if a state permitted a person to vote for the “most numerous branch” of its state legislature, it was required to permit that person to vote in elections for members of the United States House of Representatives.[1] In the absence of a specific federal law or constitutional provision, each state is given considerable discretion to establish qualifications for suffrage and candidacy within its own respective jurisdiction; in addition, states and lower level jurisdictions establish election systems, such as at-large or single member district elections for county councils or school boards. Beyond qualifications for suffrage, rules and regulations concerning voting (such as the poll tax) have been contested since the advent of Jim Crow laws and related provisions that indirectly disenfranchised racial minorities.

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