Getting Out the Indian-American Vote in NJ

Political activists and members of the Indian-American and South Asian community in New Jersey with Tammy Murphy, the wife of current Gov. Phil Murphy, on a tour of Little India in Jersey City during the gubernatorial campaign last year. (Photo from the South Asian American Caucus via Desi Talk)

Ahead of the May 15 voter registration deadline to cast a ballot in the June 5 primaries in New Jersey, Indian Americans interviewed by Desi Talk’s Ela Dutt are encouraging community members to register.

According to Ritesh Shah, founder of the South Asian Registration Initiative (SARI), it was last year’s Election Day win of Vin Gopal in Monmouth County, the first NJ state senator of Indian descent, that indicated community members could make a political impact.

“Now we are not only on the menu, but also at the table,” Ritesh Shah told Desi Talk. The math showed that just in Monmouth County, where barely 12 percent of South Asian-origin voters cast their ballot before the mobilization drive, something like 40 percent did so on Nov. 8.

Other candidates have reached out to SARI including congressional candidates Goutam Jois of NJ and Suraj Patel of NY.

Desi Talk adds that “mainstream” campaigns are hiring Indian Americans for outreach roles.

Ishan Shah, 25, is the ‘Director of Strategic Initiatives’ for multimillionaire pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who is trying to unseat longtime Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

“As a South Asian, in my eyes, outreach to the Indian-American community is extremely important. And just in general, registering Indian-Americans to participate in a democracy is extremely important,” Ishan Shah told Desi Talk. (…)

Go to Desi Talk to hear from Indian-American political figures on the key behind convincing people to register to vote, and how the response has changed over the decades.

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