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Healthcare, race and culture wars: Why are Americans in Europe so stressed about the US election?

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Rachel Oakland, a US voter in France (Left), Stacey Kruckel, a US voter in Germany (centre), Kendall Lack, a US voter in France (left).
Rachel Oakland, a US voter in France (Left), Stacey Kruckel, a US voter in Germany (centre), Kendall Lack, a US voter in France (left).   -   Copyright  Courtesy of Rachel Oakland, Stacey Kruckel and Kendall Lack
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US voters in Europe say the election outcome could influence their plans to move their families back to the country.

Many Americans said they were feeling stressed and were concerned about the future of the country after this election.

“If for example [Republicans] repealed the Affordable Care Act and there was no longer a protection for people who have pre-existing conditions, that would be a factor in me never moving back to the United States which I currently plan to do in the coming years with my husband,” said Rachel Oakland, an American voter who has been living in Lyon, France, for four years.

“If something bad were to happen and if there’s no protection in the healthcare system I think that would be a huge deterrent to moving back there,” she added.

For her, healthcare is a top issue in the United States, and she is closely following both the presidential and Senate election this year.

“Being [in France] for so long you get used to not having to pay exorbitant amounts of money for the basic necessity of healthcare,” Oakland added, stating that in the US she often had to pay hundreds of dollars for doctors or would have to prove that she did not have a preexisting condition in order to get insurance coverage.

Stacey Kruckel is an American who works at a professional services firm and has lived in Germany for two years. She also hopes for a change in the administration so that her children could feel comfortable moving to the US.

“I really do feel that this is the most critical election of my lifetime. I have two small children and you know I want my children to feel comfortable moving back to America,” Kruckel said.

“As the mother of two Black boys, I’m worried. I want my children to feel safe and that their voices will be heard and that as young Black children they have opportunity and will not be racially profiled. And I think that this president has stoked racial divisiveness to such a point that it’s very problematic,” Kruckel said.

She began volunteering with Democrats Abroad this year to help encourage other Americans overseas to vote in the election and now is Secretary of the Frankfurt chapter.

Max N and Albert R, who preferred not to share their full surnames, have lived in Lyon, France, for the past 4.5 years and said the 2016 election was “traumatic” and now they’re doing “all they can” to help Biden and Harris.

“Especially thinking about the Republicans and Trump winning the election this time, it makes me a bit more doubtful that the US will be a country that I want to live in although so many of the people I love are there and it will always be home in my heart,” said Max.

Clara Abbott, a 24-year-old teacher in the UK, said that she could want to move back to “fight for the issues I care about.” She’s originally from St. Louis, Missouri and was inspired by the protest movement following the death of George Floyd.

“I really had wanted to be back in St Louis during that time because following the legacy of the Ferguson protests, there was so much incredible organising happening,” Abbott said.

Living in the UK has also impacted how she views policy issues in the US. When she was a teacher in Arkansas, she explained she had to do lockdown drills in case of an active shooter.

“Coming here has made me realise how insane that is, that we have to do that and always be prepared for that situation,” Abbott said.

Americans abroad said they overall felt stressed and anxious about the election and what could happen afterwards.

Many said they were closely following the current events in the United States and stayed very connected to people there.

"I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept. I’ve been talking to my mother who is crying. There have been ice storms in America so my family is not only in confinement but they’ve been out of electricity for a week. Everyone I know is just completely exhausted and stressed out," said Kendall Lack, an American who has been living in France for six years and who is about to start a vegan food truck business.

Lack noted that in France she has healthcare whereas when she lived in the United States, she didn't, something that makes her feel blessed to be overseas.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m in a false reality living where I do and seeing what things that happen at home,” said Shayna Marmon, an American voter who has been living in Aalborg, Denmark for the past year.

She said that often Europeans have a romanticised view of the United States, which is why she feels it’s important to follow the news of what’s going on in the country. She said one of the ways she felt connected this year, was by making sure she voted.

Gabrielle Czymbour just moved to France and despite trying to get a ballot from South Carolina, said her emails went unanswered. It's "disheartening", she said, adding that she was "pretty worried" about the election.

Concerns about violence following the election result

“One of the things that worry me is that people are talking a lot about a Civil War or taking to the streets and I think regardless of the results we are going to have people who are very unsatisfied,” said Patricia Duroseau, an IT consultant who lives in France.

Sarah Elliott, who runs the UK’s chapter of Republicans Overseas, said she was worried about potential unrest in the country regardless of the outcome.

“The one thing I really hope for this election for the nation’s sake is that it’s decisive. We are literally in a culture war. We haven’t drawn our guns even though you’ve seen inklings of what can happen in our cities. I’m very concerned,” Elliott said.

Shops in the US have recently begun boarding up windows and hiring increased security amid fears of unrest following the election results.

Typically, just a small percentage of voters overseas cast their ballots in the country, something that many are hoping will change this year.

Trends already point towards record turnout among overseas voters who resoundingly say this is a huge election for many Americans.

Elliott said she has heard from tons of voters in the United Kingdom who wanted to make their voices heard.

“I’m having people who have never voted before asking how to vote this time,” she said.

Every weekday at 1900 CET, Uncovering Europe brings you a European story that goes beyond the headlines. Download the Euronews app to get an alert for this and other breaking news. It's available on Apple and Android devices.