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A girl sits on her father's shoulders as they await the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Hilliard, Ohio, November 2, 2012. (Jason Reed/REUTERS)

A girl sits on her father's shoulders as they await the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Hilliard, Ohio, November 2, 2012.

(Jason Reed/REUTERS)

Expat dispatches: Five local issues that could swing the swing states Add to ...

As huge as the presidential election is, sometimes it’s more than just the big picture that sways a voter. Some issues have played out in states that haven’t made the national news. Here are dispatches from five states on what’s important locally.

This is part of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series – expats talking about life and politics south of the border.

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Keith Vincent, a student in Boynton Beach, Fla., from Corner Brook, Nfld.:

A local issue that has come up here in Palm Beach County has concerned absentee ballots. There was a printing error with 27,000 ballots and they are now no longer readable by machine and must be analyzed individually. That’s not all: there have already been questions about matching (or non-matching) signatures and court challenges to rejected ballots are already starting. So, it will be interesting to see if this election will have its own version of the “hanging chad.”

Colleen Pendergast, who lives and works in Nantucket, Mass., from Edmonton:

Massachusetts has a lot of ballot questions this year, including:

Medical use of marijuana: the pro argument states that it helps ease the suffering of various medical issues. The against argument states that there is much room for corruption and exploitation if the law is passed. (Similar provisions are also on the ballot in Colorado and Washington.)

Prescribing medication to end a person's life: the pro argument (with many provisions – death must be certain within six months, person must be mentally capable, etc.), allows a physician to prescribe medication to end a person's life with dignity and less suffering. The against argument states that it "enables suicide as a substitute for quality health care" and they cite an example of someone with treatable depression being able to get a life-ending prescription. The against arguments also state that the law is confusing and that doctors are often wrong in their diagnosis.

This was all obtained by the voter packet (put out by the state) that I received in the mail a couple of months ago.

Meredith Miller, who works in communications in Pittsburgh, Penn., from Toronto:

Here in western Pennsylvania, this is coal and natural gas country. A large part of Mitt Romney’s pledge to create 12 million jobs has to do with fostering domestic energy production. Many people in this region, as well as in Canada (with regard to Keystone XL) will likely be paying attention should Mitt Romney get elected.

Timothy C. Winegard, a professor in Grand Junction, Colo., from Sarnia, Ont.:

Living in western Colorado, one key feature of the election is oil and gas development and the associated permits, as this provides the bulk of employment in the region. Although Mr. Obama has annually increased permits over the last three years, many here still do not see this as progressive enough. Mr. Romney has advocated for increased domestic oil production in the west, and has questioned the President over his failure to endorse the Keystone Pipeline. The result of the election will no doubt have an impact on energy development here.

Jenny Zhang, who works in advertising in Greensboro, N.C., from Ottawa:

In my little corner of eastern North Carolina, jobs are on everyone’s minds. There has been little conversation about social issues, foreign policy, climate change or anything other than the economy. This is perhaps understandable given the decline of the furniture, textiles and tobacco industries that have traditionally been strong in the state, but there also seems to be a sense of wistful nostalgia for the the boom times of the ‘90s. There are certainly high-growth industries in North Carolina, particular in biotechnology and IT, but there seems to be little local support for investing in the educational infrastructure that would enable local students to take advantage of the opportunities to be found at the Research Triangle Park. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is up for re-election on Nov. 6 as well, but few in my extended social circle seem to know, or care.

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