Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse smiles during second half of their NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Toronto, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. Website traffic for voter registration by Americans living abroad is triple what it was for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to Nurse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse smiles during second half of their NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards in Toronto, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. Website traffic for voter registration by Americans living abroad is triple what it was for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to Nurse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Raptors continue push for Americans living abroad to vote in U.S. election

Team launched campaign to urge Americans living north of the border to vote in the U.S. presidential election

Website traffic for voter registration by Americans living abroad is triple what it was for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.

Nurse and the Raptors can take some measure of pride in the big increase.

“There are 620,000 U.S. citizens living here in Canada, and just over five per cent of them voted in the election in 2016. It’s hard to believe when you see those numbers, but we are making some some inroads,” Nurse said.

Messages of social and racial justice were a theme of the NBA’s restart after its forced four-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Raptors launched a campaign to urge Americans living north of the border to vote in the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election. On Monday, Nurse joined Susan Rice, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on an Instagram Live event that coincided with the deadline for several states – Pennsylvania, South Dakota, California, Alabama, and Texas.

“Thanks for all you doing to raise awareness,” Rice told Nurse. “This really is in so many ways, the most consequential election of our lifetimes. And that’s because so much is at stake. And for Americans living in Canada, obviously, Americans want to see the best for our country, but we also want to see the best for our relationship with Canada.

“We want to get the COVID crisis under control, particularly on the U.S. side of the border so that we can travel freely and see friends and family. We want co-operative trade relationships. We want our alliance to be strong and to be clear in our commitment to our shared values, our faith in democracy and respect for human rights and our desire to to be strong on the world stage as part of NATO together. So there’s so much at stake.”

Nurse, who’s lived abroad for much of a professional coaching career that has spanned three decades, admitted he’s been guilty of voter apathy in previous elections.

“But no more. This is the biggest election of my lifetime, and I hope everybody’s thinking a little bit like I am, that I couldn’t sit this one out. My conscience won’t let me sit it out,” said Nurse, who planned to send his registration by FedEx to his home state of Iowa on Monday.

The Raptors originally had planned to open up Scotiabank Arena to facilitate voter registration, but had to scrap that plan over rising COVID-19 cases and tightened restrictions in Toronto.

But the bump in website traffic is a hopeful sign, Nurse said.

“If we can get more than five per cent, if we get seven, 10, 15, 20 per cent of Americans in Canada to vote, and many of you come from swing states where your votes really make a big difference… I just want to encourage everybody, of all political persuasions to be active and be involved in this process,” added Rice.

Rice knows Canada well. Her husband is from Victoria and is a former CBC producer. They lived in Toronto for several years.

“So we love Canada. We love Toronto. We love the Raptors,” she said.

Nurse, who earned this season’s NBA coach of the year honours, has lived in Canada since 2013. His two younger sons, Leo and Rocky, were born in Toronto.

“So they’re going to be full-fledged Canadians. And they’re going to be playing for the Canadian national team someday in basketball, I got them penciled in for the 2040 Olympic Games. Starting backcourt, maybe,” he told Rice with a laugh.

Rice, who has endorsed Joe Biden in the election, congratulated Nurse on the Raptors’ work on social and racial justice issues. The Raptors were one of the standard-bearers in the NBA bubble, arriving at the bubble at Walt Disney World in buses with “Black Lives Matter” in huge black letters.

“It’s really a great model that you’re showing the rest of us,” Rice said. “So I want to thank you and your team for that. And thank you for your leadership on encouraging Americans in Canada to vote at FVAP.gov. It couldn’t be more important.”

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Racial injusticeUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

Lacombe Police and RCMP have charged four people and seized three loaded guns and a small amount of methamphetamine following a traffic stop on Dec. 2. (Photo contributed)
Lacombe Police and RCMP arrest four people after joint investigation

The operation resulted in multiple loaded weapons seized and 116 charges

An aerial view of the Habitat for Humanity Aspen West build site in Blackfalds. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Red Deer
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer is building four new homes in Blackfalds

The homes are already under construction and expected to be completed by August 2021

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)
Wolf Creek and Wetaskiwin school boards ‘reassured’ by letter from LaGrange

Boards urge the Alberta government to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Judge finds former Alberta Mountie not guilty of sexually assaulting colleague

Jason Andrew Tress, who is 34, was stationed in the northern Alberta community of Faust at the time of the alleged assault

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Alberta set to retire coal power by 2023, ahead of 2030 provincial deadline

In 2014, 55 per cent of Alberta’s electricity was produced from 18 coal-fired generators

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read