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US polls: 'Tired, people still looking for hope'

Last updated on: November 7, 2012 01:52 IST

US polls: 'Tired, people still looking for hope'

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George Joseph in New York

Rediff.com/India Abroad's George Joseph speaks to scores of Indian Americans in Sandy-hit New York and New Jersey to know their take on the ongoing US presidential elections.

Vin Gopal, chairman of the Monmouth County Democrats in New Jersey, visited several polling booths and found problems in some of them. "There are lots of problems in many booths. Generators are not working. In some places paper ballots are being used," he said.

New Jersey is still reeling under the effects of Sandy hurricane, yet people are coming out to vote in large numbers.

"I have seen large crowds in many places. The enthusiasm of last election may not be there, as people are more worried about their daily existence. But New Jersey is a Democratic state and President Obama faces no problem here," he added.

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Image: An Indian American is seen after casting her vote at a polling booth in Sandy-hit Jersey City on Tuesday
Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia

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'I'm optimistic about the outcome'

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According to Gopal, New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who contests to the Congress from the 7th District, has a fair chance to win. "I don't know how the hurricane has affected his district. But he has done a great job and we hope that he will win."

Chivukula cast his vote at the booth at the Presbyterian Church early on Tuesday morning. Sandy has affected his district quite badly. Yet people are coming out in large numbers to vote.

Chivukula said he is optimistic about the outcome.

Fewer Indian Americans were seen among the crowd at the polling stations in Edison, New Jersey, where Indians number about one third of the population.

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Image: New Jersey Democrat Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula cast his vote at a polling booth in New Jersey
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com

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'People confused as polling booths moved to new places'

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The situation in Jackson Heights, New York, was different, according to Sayu Bhojwani, who served New York City's first Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs.

After voting at a booth in Manhattan, she went to Queens as a volunteer. Though many parts of Queens and Long Island suffered badly during the hurricane, it did not impact much in Jackson Heights, which is dominated by Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities now.

But she also found confusion and problems in some booths, though people were not turned away from voting. These were booths moved to new locations due to the hurricane.

Staten Island, one of the worst affected areas in New York City, had its share of confusion and problems on election day, according to Captain Raju Philip, a leader of the Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas.

"Polling stations were moved to new places and it confuses people. These stations are unusually crowded too," he said.

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Image: Another Indian American seen at a polling booth in New Jersey
Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia

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'People are eager to voice their opinion'

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Dr Indu Jaiswal, a community leader in Long Island, New York, another worst-hit area in the state, went to vote early in the morning. "Sandy has really damaged most of the streets, light posts, trees, etc. Some houses still do not have power," she said.

"In spite of all these odds, voting booths are very well managed, equipped, no long lines, people are extremely helpful and courteous and plenty of parking available," she added.

"So we voted this morning without any problems," she said.

She got power at her home in Garden City recently. "I hope that today rest of the people get electricity. Tomorrow another storm is coming and weather is getting very cold. We are trying to clean as much as possible and also working on getting estimates for repairs needed," she said.

Dr Panna Shah, another resident of Long Island, said, "Hurricane Sandy disturbed final days of 2012 election. In the absence of electricity and heat along with downed cables and trees, people on Long Island have been waiting in over a mile lines at most gas stations, just to get gasoline for the car".

"Tired, weary and frustrated, people are looking for the hope for the future in spite of the long lines. In Suffolk County, people are eager to voice their opinion to select the next president."

Aney Paul, Rockland County Legislator, in New York, too voted early in the day. Though Rockland was affected badly by the hurricane, it has not affected the polling much. Since the polling continues till 8 pm, there were no crowds seen in the booths in the early hours.

Ravi S Bhalla, councilman-at-Large in Hoboken, New Jersey, who is contesting again, asked the people to send a text message to 877877 and type the address, in case they do not know the location of the polling station.

"You will immediately get a text back letting you know your polling location. If you are a new voter or have changed your address, your name may not be in the voter books at the location you are supposed to vote. This is not a problem! If this is the case, please bring a form of identification and request (insist if you have to!) to vote by provisional (paper) ballot -- if you do this, your vote will count," he said.

Meanwhile, an organisation named United Hindu Front endorsed Obama for president of US.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney is surrounded by a group of known Pro-Pakistan Republicans supported by a strong pro-Pakistan lobby, a statement said.


Image: A sample ballot in Hudson County, New Jersey
Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia

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