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'In US polls are peaceful, in India they turn violent'

Last updated on: November 7, 2012 17:21 IST

'In US polls are peaceful, in India they turn violent'

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Ritu Jha in California

Indian-American voters from California compare the elections in the US to the ones back home. Ritu Jha reports from California

Indian-Americans from California came out and voted in Tuesday's presidential polls, most of them were in support of Barack Obama who, as it happened, took the state.

Ashvin Panchal, a Gujarat native, described the voting process as "peacefully and quick". "I voted for President Barack Obama," he told this correspondent, and recalled his voting in India. "It is very different here because the ballot method is very good," he said.

 "I prepared my answers at home before coming to the polling station, so I could quickly finished the paper," Ashvin told rediff.com. He added that he likes the ballot proposition and that is important here; people's views are counted when the government wants to make changes in law.

"This is called democracy. I have also watched all the debates and they discussed the problems and what could be the solution. It is the most important thing," he said.

Recalling the elections in India he said, "I am from Gujarat and I have seen how violent villages turn during elections. Here it's so peaceful and systematic."

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Image: A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Los Angeles
Photographs: Reuters

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The US Census 2010 showed that in California, the Asian-Indian population has nearly doubled in the last decade. It grew from 3,14,819 in 2000 to 5,28,176 in 2010.

Shannan Velayas, spokesperson for the California secretary of state, said they do not break up the registration of voters by ethnicity. But according to the state, 18,245,970 Californians registered to vote in the November 6 election.

Another voter, Jagdeep Kaur, after casting her vote said the ballot paper was pretty long. "I have to carefully read it to make sure I am voting for the right one," said Jagdeep.

Being young and just out of college, Jagdeep believes that it is important for the youth to come out and vote. On being asked who she voted for, she promptly said, "President Barack Obama."

Sukhdeb Kaur, a native of Punjab and a first-time voter, said she has been living in the US since 1984. She said she always wanted to vote in the US. "I voted for President Barack Obama," said Sukhdeb, who admits she does not understand much about politics.

Her son asked her to vote for Bill Harrison and not Anu Natarajan in the mayor's race in Fremont.

"My only concern is about Obama, I like him and he is a hard-working man," said Sukhdeb.

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Image: Jagdeep fills the ballot paper


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'I picked Romney, Democrats keep sending funds to Pakistan'

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Another voter, Sarla Arya, said she voted for Obama in the last election but this time she picked Romney because the "Democrats keep sending funds to Pakistan as aid". But, that country uses the money against India and not for the prosperity of its country.

"Also, the job market is still not good, though he has been working to fix the economy. But I had a lot of expectations for him. He was the first minority president after all," Arya told rediff.com.

Talking about her voting experience in India, Arya, who hails from New Delhi, said, "I feel it's different here. There the whole family would go to vote together. Here there are no long queues like the ones in India."

In Alameda county the gurdwara doubles up as the polling station. "Since 2006, I have been serving as the vice president of the gurdwara. I always serve as an inspector during elections," said Sarabjit Kaur Cheema, who serves at the New Haven Unified School District, Union City. She believes that "having a polling station at the gurdwara makes it easy for the community to cast their vote."

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Image: Sukhdeb and Manbir at the gurdwara to cast their vote


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