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

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Williams Lake’s Brock Hoyer films a segment of the newly-released The Way Home in the city of Revelstoke. (Ryen Dunford photo)
Brock Hoyer stars in new snowbike film: The Way Home

The film is completely free and was released on YouTube on Jan. 22, 2021

The body of Kenneth Seymour Michell was discovered Jan. 14, 2021, behind a Williams Lake business a day after he was released by a judge on conditions. (Photo submitted)
Family looks for answers after Indigenous man dies by suicide following release from custody

System does not care about Indigenous peoples, says First Nations Leadership Council

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read