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Screen from the Election 2012: Canadians in America interactive.The Globe and Mail

It's July 4, and in the United States, that means fireworks. It's also a presidential election year, which means fireworks of a different kind.

Here at The Globe and Mail, we're marking the occasion with the launch of our ambitious project Election 2012: Canadians in America.

Back in April, we asked Canadians living in the U.S. to play a key part in The Globe and Mail's election coverage. In less than two weeks, more than 400 Globe readers answered our call.

Multimedia reporter Affan Chowdhry and I were overwhelmed by the response. We heard from a military wife in Maryland (by way of Winnipeg), an optometrist in South Dakota (from Montreal) and bankers in New York (from Toronto). They were game to take part, signing on to help translate the election campaign in their part of the country for Canadians back home.

To kick off the project, meet 12 of the expats who will be your eyes and ears as the election unfolds south of the border. Their stories and viewpoints will complement reporting from The Globe's team of Washington and New York-based journalists in the months to come.

In recent weeks, The Globe and Mail has brought together our diverse mix of Canadians-turned-Americans online, where they've been vigorously debating the topics that are already impacting the election trail.

Starting today, we'll show you some of the best stories from the forum in our weekly "Expats debate" series. (Our first debate: Barack Obama's health insurance mandate.)

Later this week, we'll begin our "Expats answer" series. Have a burning question about the United States? We'll get you an answer. (For instance: What happens if you break your leg and you don't have health insurance? What are Americans saying about the Keystone pipeline?)

We'll also have a monthly discussion where you can debate an issue of the day with some of our expat contributors. Watch for a date and time on our first chat.

If you've got a suggestion for our expats or something in the U.S. you'd like explained, please let us know. You can fill out our form, email me or leave a comment below.