Tags: israel | us | voters

U.S. Voters in Israel Could Sway Results

Thursday, 23 Oct 2008 07:34 AM

By Tim Collie

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An estimated 42,000 registered US voters living in Israel will be casting their absentee votes in swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, say experts and others familiar with the expatriate vote.

That could have an important effect on the turnouts of those elections, according to Shimon Greenspan, director of the nonpartisan Vote From Israel organization, which helps Americans living in Israel to register and cast their absentee ballots.

“If the election is close, as it was in the past two (presidential) elections, then the deciding votes could be coming from Israel,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli newspaper headlined the story, “Israel to become Ultimate Swing State.”

Israel has the third-largest group of American voters abroad, behind Canada and Britain. Most registered US voters in Israel come from New York or New Jersey, two states heavily in the Democratic camp, according to polls. But the next two states are the key battlegrounds of Ohio and Florida. Several thousand votes will likely be going to those swing states from Israel.

Furthermore, the significance of the votes from Israel could be magnified because they will come well before the November 4 election, the Post speculated. Their choices will be reported next week in an Israel-based exit poll commissioned by Vote From Israel. Greenspan believes they could influence American Jews in the United States.

But while American Jews have tilted toward the Democrats in the past, this year’s vote could slightly help Republican hopeful John McCain — if an August poll by KEEVOON Research, Strategy and Communications remains accurate.

That poll surveyed Israelis generally and not American voters in the country, gave the Arizona senator some 38 percent support, compared to 31 percent for Democrat Barack Obama. The thinking is that the influence of their fellow Israelis could sway some votes.

Still, it is difficult to gauge how the “Israeli” vote will go, says Greenspan, because Americans in Israel often vote on issues beyond foreign policy. Many maintain business ties to the US and are concerned about taxes.

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