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Mexicali Fresh owner Cindy Buell at her Auckland Waterfront restaurant, the polling station for the Democrats Abroad New Zealand presidential primary, on Saturday. All photos: Rebecca Falconer/Axios

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The Auckland Waterfront restaurant Mexicali Fresh was transformed into a polling station Saturday, as Americans voted on a warm, sunny fall day in the global Democratic presidential primary.

Why it matters: Democrats Abroad New Zealand chair Mike Haught told Axios it's important for Americans outside the United States to stay connected and have a voice, especially as they must comply with a U.S. citizen-based tax system. "There are 9 million–11 million of us overseas, and if you put us together in a group, we're basically a state that's about the size of Virginia," he said. There are some 21,000 Americans in New Zealand.

Bryan Ruddy votes for former Vice President Joe Biden. "He'll do a much better job of representing America's interests abroad," he says. "He's someone who has a long experience dealing with foreign policy and appreciating that America has a positive role to do on the world stage."
Colton Vermilyea, the first person to vote in the election in Auckland, is supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders because he says he'd pull the U.S. in the direction it needs to go in. But he added, "The two front-runners that are left, they're both going to be a massive improvement over the status quo."
Neera Jain says she would have voted for Sen. Elizabeth Warren had she not suspended her campaign. Although people can vote for candidates who suspended their campaign, she says she cast her ballot for Sanders because he's still in the race and is the "next best candidate."
Bill Herbert, with his 9-year-old son, Liam, at the polling booth, says he's "very torn" as to who to vote for. "By the time my pen makes a nick, that's the second I'll decide," he says. "Anybody who beats Trump is fine by me. I'd have George W. Bush back, and I don't like George W. Bush."
U.S.-born Dan Brady has lived most of his life in New Zealand, but he's required to fill out a U.S. tax form so he says it's important he has a voice as an American citizen. He backs Sanders.
Carley Bereny, with Kilo the service dog, filling in a registration form before casting her vote for Sanders. "I need things to change," she says. But she says she will vote for Biden if he were the eventual nominee.
Jason Goforth votes for Sanders because he thinks he can overcome President Trump, though he says he should adopt a private/public health care plan. "I've lived in Ireland and I live in New Zealand and I find that that seems to be the better system," he says. He's concerned about Biden's gaffes and thinks Trump has one up on him on Ukraine, but he'd back Biden if he's the nominee.
Jonathan Howard casts his vote for Sanders because he says he respects his progressive policies and "history of standing up for the little people, like he was arrested during the civil rights movement." He says he'd be really sad if Biden were the eventual Democratic Party nominee but adds, "At this point, it's vote blue no matter who. But I'd rather not Biden."
Democrats Abroad New Zealand vice chair Genice Paullay-Beazley and chair Mike Haught on hand at the polling station from 11 am to 5 pm.
A view of Mexicali Fresh from a commuter ferry. American cruise ship passengers have been known to stop off to cast their votes.
A view of Auckland Harbour Bridge and the CBD from the ferry in Waitemata Harbour. New Zealand-based Democrats cast their votes as the temperature reached a pleasant 71°F at Auckland Waterfront.

Go deeper: The youth vote goes missing in 2020 Democratic primaries

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.