Democrats recruit Irish to pip Bush in the post

IRISH Democrats have signed up hundreds of postal voters in a bid to win the US presidential election for John Kerry.

There are an estimated 40,000 American passport holders in Ireland and all are entitled to send absentee ballots to their states for the November election.

Democrats Abroad Ireland chairwoman Rebecca Woolf said: “We’re looking to get more numbers because in the closest states such as New Mexico and Florida, a few hundred votes from us would certainly tip the balance.”

In the 2000 election, George W Bush won Florida by just 537 votes.

Ms Woolf said: “A lot of Americans in Ireland are saying to us ‘I didn’t vote the last time and look what happened’.”

The absentee ballots must be received in the US by October 2.

US citizens who have signed up so far include people who have retired to Ireland, employees of US multi-nationals and children of Irish-American parents.

“A lot of those people would not consider themselves American but they do have US citizenship.

“People who were born in the US but who moved back here when they were very young, we have registered a few of those.”

However, the effect of the registrations may be tempered because most of the voters are not from swing states but from traditionally Democrat Massachusetts and New York.

More than 100 years earlier, it was the Irish who used voter registration to build political power in the US, with the help of some dubious practices such as ‘vote early, vote often’.

“The Irish gave politics to Boston and Chicago,” said Ms Woolf.

Democrats Abroad Ireland sets up its stand every Thursday night in the mezzanine area of the Irish Film Institute's restaurant in Templebar, Dublin.

Ms Woolf is also planning a tour to Galway, Kilkenny and Donegal in September in a final push for votes.

One of the people to most recently register with Democrats Abroad Ireland is Paku Khan, a lawyer from Nashville, Tennessee who is working with the Competition Authority in Dublin.

“I had been wanting to come out here but I got married in June so I was a little busy,” said Mr Khan.

“I think it looks very good for John Kerry. Some of my friends back home who are connected to the political grapevine tell me that some of the ‘swing states’ are not so swing - they’re a little more to Kerry than people would believe.”

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