'It has to be fought': Ottawa Democrat heads south to do her part

It's voting day in the U.S., and for one dual citizen living in Ottawa, the final stretch of the midterm election campaign has been a hands-on experience.

Dual citizen Rachel Eugster canvassing for Democratic candidate in Upstate New York

Millions of Americans will vote in midterm elections on Nov. 6, 2018, selecting candidates for the House of Representatives, the Senate and state governor. (Clay Jackson/The Advocate Messenger/Associated Press)

It's voting day in the U.S., and for one dual citizen living in Ottawa, the final stretch of the midterm election campaign has been a hands-on experience. 

Rachel Eugster​ travelled to the Upstate New York town of Mexico, about 270 kilometres south of Ottawa, to bolster the campaign team of Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat running for Congress against Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney.

"I couldn't stay in Ottawa sitting on my hands, doing nothing to help make this change," Eugster said in an interview with CBC Radio's All In A Day Monday. 

"With a two- or three-hour drive I could make it down here on the ground, doing the most effective kind of campaigning you can do, which is talking to people at their doors."

'It has to be fought'

Americans are heading to the polls today to vote for members of their House of Representatives, Senator and state governors.

The outcome will define the next two years of American politics. 

Democrats are favoured to win control of the House, giving them a chance to steer the legislative agenda for the first time since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

The Republicans currently control the House, Senate and presidency.

"I don't even want to talk about how scared I am if the Republicans continue to be in control of all the levers of power at the U.S. government," Eugster said. 

"It's very scary for the entire world."

We speak with a Canadian-American Democrat who travelled from Ottawa to the town of Mexico, New York, to volunteer for one of the closely contested races of the election. 8:40

Eugster and her husband drove down to the area north of Syracuse, N.Y., Friday night and started canvassing door-to-door for Brindisi's campaign Saturday morning. 

She said the motivation to help stemmed from her alarm that politicians with populist leanings seem to be entering — and winning — elections around the world since Trump became president. 

Rachel Eugster​ travelled to the Upstate New York town of Mexico to bolster the campaign team of Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat running for Congress against Republican incumbent Claudia Tenney. (andrew alexander photography)

The election of Doug Ford as premier of Ontario had many questioning whether populism had taken root here in Ontario, though Ford himself has rejected comparisons to Trump. 

And in Brazil, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who has expressed homophobic and sexist opinions, won the country's presidential election on Oct. 28. 

"We have the same kind of philosophy creeping into Canadian and Ontario politics as well. Even in recent elections we've seen that happen," Eugster said. "It has to be fought."

A tight race

The polls suggest the race between Brindisi and Tenney to be neck-and-neck, making last-minute canvassing all the more important,  Eugster said.

Most of the residents she's encountered knocking on doors are already on a list of Democratic voters and are enthusiastic about voting, she said.

Canvassers have been reminding people where their polling places are and asking if any need help getting there — nudges Eugster said many people have welcomed. 

"If this candidate has made the effort to contact them, they may actually turn out when they otherwise might not have," she said. 

"I think it's the work you do at the margins in these tied races that can make all the difference."

There is no U.S. law preventing Canadians from volunteering their time to help a U.S. candidate, though it is illegal for someone who is not an American citizen to contribute money to a U.S. election campaign.