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Americans in NZ Celebrate the Fourth of July

Fri, 02 July 2004

Americans in New Zealand Celebrate the Fourth of July by Urging Fellow Expats to Vote

CHRISTCHURCH, 2 July 2004 Americans across New Zealand are celebrating Independence Day this weekend by urging fellow expatriates to register to vote in Novembers elections. Professor Bill Hodge, who teaches law at the University of Auckland and is originally from Ohio, says, What better way to celebrate our Independence Day than by exercising our most basic democratic right?

Hodge explained, "I failed to participate in the last American presidential election, and looking back, I now realize how important a few votes can be. I'll also be casting a ballot in November because doing so could influence policies that affect my life here, other expat Americans' lives overseas, and the US' relationship with New Zealand and other countries."

New Zealand's Democrats Abroad Chairman Mark Chubb, noted that, "Maximum participation is essential to any successful election, and overseas votes can be especially important in swing states like Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The 2000 presidential race in Florida was decided by only about 600 votes -- much less than one-tenth of the number of eligible American voters in New Zealand alone."

Richard Akel, Chairman of Americans Overseas for Kerry's New Zealand chapter says Americans overseas do not need to have lived in or visited the US recently to maintain their eligibility for an absentee ballot. "Generally, Americans who registered to vote in any state before leaving the US remain eligible to vote there, and they just need to request an absentee ballot."

In the months leading up to November's general election, the group -- consisting of New Zealand representatives of Democrats Abroad and the Kerry campaign organization -- will continue its efforts to mobilize prospective American voters. The group urges Americans to visit

http://www.nzdemocrats.org/>http://www.nzdemocrats.org/ or http://www.johnkerry.com/commun ities/aok/ to learn more about voting or joining the campaign. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (http://www.fvap.gov/) also offers advice to eligible voters living overseas concerning voter registration and links to state-by-state instructions for obtaining an absentee ballot.


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