- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — When decision time comes in November, the real swing votes in the 2004 presidential election may not come from Pennsylvania, Ohio or even notorious Florida.

The ultimate Bush-Kerry battleground may turn out to be somewhere more far-flung and unexpected — Israel, Britain, even Indonesia.

Both political camps are courting American voters who live overseas and taking no chances that the expatriate vote will undermine them at the finish line.

Between 4 million and 10 million U.S. citizens are believed to live abroad. Those over 18 are entitled to have their absentee votes counted in the state where they last lived — no matter how long ago that was. And many are planning to do just that.

“There’s enormous interest abroad, because the whole of the world depends on the result,” said Phyllis Earl, 72, who lives in Britain and has not voted in a U.S. election since 1956, two years after she moved overseas.

Americans in Israel, through their votes in Florida, may have put George W. Bush in the White House four years ago — a phenomenon that has Mr. Kerry’s supporters in Israel vowing to do whatever it takes to make certain that doesn’t happen again in November.

Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman for the group Democrats Abroad, said Kerry supporters have been active in “overseas outreach efforts” in Europe, Indonesia, Mexico and even Iran. In 2000, the organization had 30 overseas chapters; now it has a presence in 73 countries — including an Iraq chapter called “Donkeys in the Desert.”

Mr. Bush, too, has advocates chasing the overseas vote on his behalf, according to Ryan King, deputy director of Republicans Abroad, which has chapters in 50 countries. Among those crossing the oceans for Mr. Bush this fall are former Vice President Dan Quayle and George P. Bush, son of the president’s brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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