PRESIDENTIAL INTEREST IS DUE NORTH

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By Greg Hudson

Arts & Life Editor

On Monday, Feb. 11, Democrats Abroad, the international wing of the Democratic Party, will have a ballot box set up at the Elephant and Castle pub on King Street. American students can bring their passport, sign up and vote on the spot.

This international ballot controls the fate of 14 delegates. This option is helpful to students who missed the opportunity to cast an absentee ballot in their home state.

Sean Lauer, chair of the Vancouver chapter of Democrats Abroad, encourages Americans studying in Canada to take action in the election where they can.

“Just because you are abroad doesn’t mean you should be out of the process,” Lauer says.

Ryerson American history professor Jenny Carson says she has a student in one of her classes who was potentially going to fly home to America, just so she could vote in her state’s primary.

“I think the price ended up making it impossible,” she says. As anyone watching TV beamed over from the United States will know, this year heralds the most historic presidential election in memory.

“This is the first election since 1952 where neither an incumbent president nor vice-president is running for the office,” Carson says, “Everything, so to speak, is up for grabs.”

To most Canadian students, the nomination process is little more than pub talk, class notes and the content of last night’s episode of The Colbert Report or Daily Show.

But for the Americans on campus, this has a serious impact on their homeland. But do they care?

“I don’t really worry about it because I don’t live there,” says Caitlin Smith, a second year student from Syracuse, N.Y. “The only time I really hear about it is if it is on the news or if my parents are telling me about it.”

Taylor Klie, a student from Louisiana didn’t see a much different attitude back home.

“In the town I used to live in, the only things people really did was paste bumper stickers all over their cars, and it made me really angry. There’s so much more you can do to be politically active,” he says.

For his part, Klie at least tries to stay informed. Staying informed is important, whether you are an American student or not, Carson says.

“As global citizens, we all have an investment in what happens in Iraq and Iran,” she says. “The divergent strategies [between opposing nominees] could quite conceivably produce vastly different results. Results that we all have to live with.”

Brian Petz, the president of the Ryerson Conservative Club, agrees that students, regardless of birthplace, should be paying attention to what’s going on in U.S. politics.

Still, he feels that most American students he’s met don’t keep track of the current election landscape.

“They are completely ignorant of the politics; they just hate George Bush and want him out,” Petz says.

— with files from Terrilyn Kunopaski

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