Toronto

U.S. citizens on edge as they watch election night results online and on TV

U.S. citizens in the Greater Toronto Area reported feeling nervous as they watched U.S. election results on their devices and on television on Tuesday night.

Canada is home to more than 600,000 people eligible to vote in U.S. elections

American and Canadian flags fly outside the U.S. consulate on the day of the U.S. presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

U.S. citizens in the Greater Toronto Area reported feeling nervous as they watched U.S. election results on their devices and on television on Tuesday night.

The virtually viewing, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, took the place of in-person parties.

Democrats Abroad Canada organized a Zoom election night watch party that drew more than 150 people from across the country. The evening included speeches, videos, musical performances, polls of people in attendance, and a few technical glitches.

Danielle Stampley, chair of Democrats Abroad Toronto, which has more than 5,000 members, said she was feeling nervous but hopeful on Tuesday night. Stampley, originally from Missouri, has been in Canada more than six years.

"I feel this is our chance to fight back, to reclaim the country that is recognizable to us as a democratic country, a country that does look out for minority rights, that does abide by the rule of law, that is a respected member of the international community. I think all of those things are at stake," she said.

"I'm absolutely nervous."

She's just one of hundreds of thousands of people in Canada eligible to vote in U. S. elections. According to the U.S. Department of Defense's federal voting assistance program, 622,492 voting-age U.S. citizens live in this country.

Stampley, a lawyer, added that watching election results virtually was unusual but not unheard of because Democrats Abroad Canada has previously held online events to enable its members from across the country to attend. She said she was watching online and had joined the Zoom election night watch party in Canada.

Danielle Stampley, chair of Democrats Abroad Toronto, says: 'I feel this is our chance to fight back, to reclaim the country that is recognizable to us as a democratic country, a country that does look out for minority rights, that does abide by the rule of law, that is a respected member of the international community.' (Daniel Bach)

"It's different from what we would normally do. We would usually host an event in person together and watch the returns on television. But we're a global organization," she said. 

"Fortunately for us, so to speak, it's not that usually for us to host online because that's the only way all of us can ever really be together."

But she noted that it's different for the organization to host an online event on election night.

"It's a different format. It's complicated but people are excited and we want to see the results together," she said. 

Election could 'permanently change' U.S., expatriate says

For Nathaniel Paty, a lawyer in Toronto, election night was a source of much anxiety. Paty had tentative Zoom plans with friends and family based on how the night was playing out and said he didn't want to get stuck at a virtual party in the event of a troubling outcome. He planned to watch the results on TV.

"Regardless of how the election goes, I don't know that the immediate aftermath of the election is going to be what we used to consider normal," Paty said.

Paty, who did not say if he was Democrat or Republican, said the outcome has the potential to change the U.S. permanently if Donald Trump beats Joe Biden. Paty, born in Trinidad, is a U.S. citizen whose mother is American.

"I do think that a continuation of the same — without being overtly political — could permanently change the country and that is scary to me."

Mark Feigenbaum, chairman of Republicans Overseas Canada, says of Republican supporters in Canada: 'We're a quieter group.' (CBC)

Mark Feigenbaum, chairman of Republicans Overseas Canada and a cross border tax lawyer, said he wasn't aware of a pro-Trump party in the GTA on Tuesday night.

"In Canada, it might be harder to find. There's clearly more Democrats than Republicans, but there's a number of us ... Maybe we're just shy," said Feigenbaum, who is originally from California.

"We're a quieter group."

Feigenbaum said usually the group organizes speakers and social events on election night. He added he is particularly interested in the races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

"I'm encouraged that the turnout is so high. No matter who wins, that's a really big plus from this election that people have been engaged in voting," he said.

"I'm kind of anxious to see what happens and I know it won't happen tonight. It's going to be a few days before we find out. They're going to be counting for days yet," he added. 

"That being said, it's all out to the voters now. They get to decide and that's how it works." 

With files from Muriel Draaisma, Talia Ricci, Chris Glover

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