New data suggests that Metro Vancouver has the world’s largest population of American citizens living outside of the United States, according to a report recently released by the US government.
The report by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) estimates that Canada’s third largest urban region is home to 183,155 eligible US voters, more than any other international city outside of the United States.
This means there are more people in Metro Vancouver than in Vancouver, Washington, a city with a population of 161,791, that can cast their ballot for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the divisive November 8 election. In fact, the number of eligible US voters in Metro Vancouver would make it the fourth most populated city in Washington State, exceeded by only Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma.
US expats in Canada and around the world
Vancouver is home to over 80,000 more eligible US voters than second place Tel Aviv, Israel and has nearly three times more voters than fourth place London, UK.
Three other Canadian cities made the top 10 list of international cities: Toronto comes in at third largest with 78,371, Montreal is fifth with 44,597, and Quebec City is seventh with 37,002.
Overall, 660,935 eligible US voters live in Canada, the most of any country besides the states, accounting for a quarter of the 2.56 million overseas Americans that are eligible to vote.
Many have ties to more than one country, with 43% registered as dual citizens, 38% of their spouses are US citizens, and 64% of their children are citizens of the country where they live.
The FVAP report notes that there was a spike in the number of eligible US voters in Canada just after the start of the 2008 recession, whereas other countries saw flat growth rates.
It suggests a large number of Americans, buoyed by the turbulent economic conditions at home, sought their northern neighbour as a place of employment as Canada, especially Vancouver, was one of the few places in the world that was relatively unscathed by the recession.
“The growth rate in the eligible voter population in Canada has been very strong since 2009, whereas the growth rates in the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Japan, Australia, Germany, Costa Rica and Switzerland have been relatively flat,” reads the report.
Poor voting rate
However, actual voting rates in the 10 largest international hubs for eligible US voters are far lower than the rates that can be expected.
Vancouver’s voting rate was just 2% in the 2014 election, just a tiny fraction of the 54% that was expected. The voting rate in Toronto was slightly higher at 5%, but it still sharply contrasted with the expected rate of 58%.
With a recorded voting rate of 11%, London had the highest actual voting rate of the 10 cities.
“Overseas citizens are in a different news environment in which news is less likely to be focused on the United States and there is less election-related advertising aimed at them,” the report continues.
“Although campaigns may target some overseas citizens on social media as part of overall messaging strategies, overseas citizens are unlikely to receive the same direct mail, telephone calls, or door-to-door visits that are common in the United States.”
The process of obtaining an absentee ballot at an overseas address is also more complicated and could deter eligible voters from engaging in their democratic right. Additionally, overseas mail reliability in some countries can impact a citizens’ ability to cast a ballot.
With that said, a higher turnout can be expected for this year’s election given the record level of international interest in the candidates.
10 cities outside of the United States with the largest population of American overseas citizens
- Vancouver, Canada: 183,155
- Tel Aviv, Israel: 102,442
- Toronto, Canada: 78,371
- London, United Kingdom: 61,490
- Montreal, Canada: 44,597
- San Jose, Costa Rica: 44,191
- Quebec City, Canada: 37,002
- Tokyo, Japan: 34,302
- Hong Kong, China: 34,042
- Melbourne, Australia: 27,709
Global distribution of voting-age Americans
- Canada: 660,935
- United Kingdom: 306,600
- France: 156,899
- Israel: 133,850
- Japan: 110,933
- Australia: 103,395
- Germany: 89,528
- Costa Rica: 79,469
- Switzerland: 68,322
- Mexico: 64,852
- South Korea: 54,546