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

Victoria artisan Tina Neurauter, right, used to shop at Pot Luck Ceramics with her daughter from Port Alberni. Now Neurauter is selling her handmade soaps and bath products at Bibi J’s, a new enterprise in the former Pot Luck Ceramics building on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Former Pot Luck Ceramics location reimagined as Bibi J’s

Owner Helma Swinkels revives social enterprise with new name, vision

The Rollin Art Centre’s Mistletoe Market begins on Dec. 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre prepares for Mistletoe Market

Artisans and crafters are still needed for annual Christmas craft fair

‘Homelessness’ means many things to people with no permanent place to sleep. For some, the challenge to find safe shelter is greater than for others. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni mother battles to find housing for her son

Mary Elles fears her son will die on the street before he will find safe housing

Andy Richards of Dog Mountain Brewing demonstrates their new canning machine. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
BIZ BEAT: Local businesses need support during holidays

Bosley’s helping pets out during holiday season

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Most Read