Early voting for the 2018 midterm elections is well underway and members of a South Asian American community are pushing to make their voices heard.
The Bhutanese community in central Ohio is coming out in droves to vote, and community leaders say they have spent the last several days bussing people to the Franklin County Board of Elections to participate in early voting.
“This community is a brand-new community here in central Ohio,” Kashi Adhikari with the Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services organization said. “We are trying to bridge up those gaps between the community, state and institution.”
Adhikari says civic engagement is important for this community and they want to know that lawmakers are taking their voices into consideration when making decisions that impact the lives of the Bhutanese-American community.
“It is always important to come together and raise and discuss our issues with our policymakers,” Adhikari said.
Other minority communities have shared the same concern with the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The Bhutanese community isn’t the only one upping their voter involvement game. Aaron Sellers, the spokesperson for the board of elections, said at least 26,000 people have cast their ballot so far during the early voting period, and a big driver behind that is small communities coming out to make their voices heard.
“Columbus has a large Somali population and a Bhutanese-Napoli community, which is very close to this part of the neighborhood,” Sellers said. “You see all kinds of people at the early voting center. IT’s a good cross section of Franklin County.”
So far, Adhikari said he has bussed about 350 Bhutanese-Americans to the board of elections and hopes to bus even more.