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Samoan-based U.S. voters keep close eye on election

U.S. citizens living in Samoa have cast their votes in advance of today’s election, paying close attention to this evening's political results and hoping it will not entrench national divisions. 

On the eve of the 3 November election in the United States, the Samoa Observer spoke with three local registered American voters, one man and two women. The voters were asked about what issues were of greatest concern to them in this year's election, one which several pundits have declared one of the most potentially divisive of the 21st Century. 

The political clash pits Democratic challengers former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris against Republican incumbents President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence. 

Voter Joe Merrick, 43, an online entrepreneur said he and his wife Alisha Merrick, 42, have always voted in the U.S. Presidential elections because it is their duty.

They are both U.S. Citizens registered to vote in the state of Texas, a typically deep red (Republican) state which has become a key battleground state in this election. It is among six key states analysts are deeming crucial to the outcome of the overall election. 

They voted by way of an absentee ballot mailed via the U.S. Embassy in Samoa several weeks ago.

“We have always voted in presidential elections because we feel like it’s our duty. I’m a contrarian. And so if I’m going to complain about national politics, then I should include my vote in that national event,” said Joe. 

“I am excited [about] what happens over the course of the next few days, for sure. Regardless of the outcome, there will be a massive uncertainty in America like we have never seen before and it frightens me, absolutely terrifies me. And I think most Americans feel the same way.”

He says the division in America is at an all-time high, something he says is caused largely by COVID-19. 

Joe’s mother is from Vaimoso and Sapapalii and his father is from Minnesota. Born in California, he moved to American Samoa when he was a few months old. At the age of five, he moved back to the U.S.

Joe and Alisha moved to Samoa from Texas two-and-a-half years ago.

He has several professions including an online business that helps families in Samoa receive help from overseas families and does contract work for a precious metals company in Texas.

“Tensions are very high [in the United States] and stress levels are very high because of coronavirus. The media has been saying that Vice-President Biden has a large lead in all the polls. They feel [like] they’re gonna win the election in historical fashion,” Joe said.

“The right sees the rallies of President Trump and feels like they’re gonna win the election in historical fashion like 2016. It’s a powder keg. Hopefully, cooler heads [will] prevail.”

Like all three registered American voters, the Samoa Observer spoke to, he is hoping that the Republican incumbent President Trump triumphs in Wednesday's (local time) national poll.

Joe says he aligned himself with the party that values the lives of babies and celebrates religion. He cast a vote for the Republican party and Trump.


A self-described libertarian who values freedom, religion and business opportunity, Joe said American citizens should be free of restrictions imposed by the federal government

Voters cannot vote their true heart and must “choose one of the two major parties,” he said

“I have aligned myself with the party that values the lives of babies. The party that celebrates religion. The party that continually tries to make it easier for small businesses to succeed. The party that upholds my second amendment right to own firearms” said Joe.

“The party that believes speech is free regardless of how ignorant some people are in their use of it. The party that stands behind our law enforcement. I voted for Donald Trump.”

But he predicts that Trump will win the election.

“President Trump will win this election. But I think he’s gonna win the election by a landslide and lose the popular vote by a landslide,” Joe said.

“I hope the U.S. doesn’t enter a civil war because of the outcomes”.

Vee Palepoi, a 42-year-old U.S. Navy Veteran and resident of Lotopa is a voter in the state of Arizona. 

She did cast an absentee ballot on her own without help from U.S. Embassy. Arizona is a deep red state which has only once voted for a Democratic candidate since 1952 when the state went blue and cast its electoral college votes for President Bill Clinton in 1996.  

“President Trump’s got my vote just like he did in 2016,” she said. 

“My hopes for the election is that President Trump will be re-elected. I love how President Trump brought back Christ into the White House, Christmas was celebrated openly without fearing of offending others. I love how he brought jobs back to the U.S.,” she said. 

“I love what he did to the economy. I love how he stands up for America to China, Mexico, Russia and other countries. I love how everyone knows he stands by Israel and has helped facilitate peace agreements for Israel. 

“I love how he doesn’t play politics and that he tells it straight without the fear of being politically incorrect. As a veteran, I love America, I love and respect the flag, I love the Constitution and I understand how important our God-given rights are. 

“I know President Trump will protect my values and those rights better than Biden ever can. Never has any other president been ridiculed, attacked and disrespected as President Trump and never has any candidate had it as easy as Biden had. 

“However, I do know that the majority know and agree with what President Trump stands for. I have faith that the majority will once again speak up by voting and shock the media just like they did four years ago when President Trump was elected.”

Owner of Le Vasa Resort in Apolima-Uta, Soraya May, is a U.S. Citizen and registered voter in the state of California. 

May did make an effort to cast her ballot by visiting the U.S. Embassy in Apia to ask some questions but admitted that other things such as maintaining the survival of her business. 

The last vote she cast in a U.S. Presidential Election was for Bill Clinton, who served two terms as the 42nd President of the U.S. from 1993 to 2001.

Ironically, it was the politics of Republican George W. Bush, Jr. that made May leave the U.S. and move to Samoa 15 years ago.

Bush served as the 43rd U.S. President from 2001 to 2009. May left the U.S. in 2006 because she didn’t like the policies and "control" implemented by Bush, she said.

“I haven’t voted since Clinton. My family has always been Republican and my last vote was for Clinton,” said May.

Trump, she said, is a billionaire businessman whose resolve to resist being "a puppet" has strengthened America’s economy and increased employment.

In the Middle East, the U.S. has taken the biggest steps it ever has in the last 29 years, under Trump, May said, pointing to the President’s work with Israel and 

“I hope Trump wins the election even though a lot of people don’t like him because he is blunt and brass but he is a good businessman and he can’t be bought. Trump is a good negotiator. That is what the country needs, someone who understands how to be an entrepreneur. It’s not about if they like you or not.”

The winning candidate must secure a minimum of 270 out of the 538 state-based electoral college votes. Doing so allows candidates to create a path to victory by winning a coalition of states while potentially losing the overall popular vote, or gaining fewer voters than their competitor.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by just under three million votes but Trump garnered 57 per cent of the electoral votes.

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