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

Lake Trail Middle school in Courtenay. File photo
Lake Trail Middle School closed due to threat

The credibility of the threat is being assessed and the investigation is being completed

The 19th annual Gingerbread Village & Teddy Bear Baskets Silent Auction runs online from Dec. 1-18. Photo supplied
Crown Isle’s annual Gingerbread Village & Teddy Bear Baskets Silent Auction goes online for 2020

Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community hosts the 19th annual Gingerbread Village… Continue reading

Two of the weapons seized in a Nov. 8 traffic stop in Black Creek. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP seize guns, drugs in Black Creek traffic stop

Two arrested in connection with incident

Canadian Tire Courtenay’s Owner Bert Heeringa and General Manager Keith Pistell displaying the donated sanitizer. Photo supplied.
Courtenay Canadian Tire donates 2,400 litres of hand sanitizer to local not-for-profits

Organizations can request sanitizer via the Comox Valley Community Foundation

Christmas will look a bit different in Cumberland this year, not only because of COVID restrictions but due to changes from BC Hydro about hanging decorations on the poles. Record file photo
Snowflakes a no-go for Cumberland’s power poles

Village, business association looking to promote shopping local for holidays

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

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

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

The BC Coroners Service has published updated reports on illicit drug toxicity deaths and fentanyl-detected drug deaths to Oct. 31. There were 162 illicit drug toxicity deaths reported in October. Pixabay photo
Drug toxicity levels killing more than five people daily: BC Coroners Service

The latest data from the BC Coroners Service says five people a… Continue reading

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

Most Read