Nepali Americans and Other Minority Voters in New York Face Discouragement

In the vibrant mosaic of New York’s electorate, the Nepali American community emerges as a noteworthy but often overlooked segment. Despite their growing presence within the state, Nepali American voters encounter unique challenges when it comes to engaging in local and state elections. A noticeable lack of communication between candidates and this community, compounded by language barriers, has given rise to a troubling disconnection between Nepali Americans and the political sphere.

Manmohan Singh Ghimire, a prominent member of the Nepali American community in Jackson Heights, New York, underscores the central issue: “Nepali American voters in New York struggle to familiarize themselves with the candidates and understand their agendas.” Ghimire’s observations shed light on a twofold challenge. On one hand, candidates often fall short in actively engaging with Nepali American voters and effectively conveying their platforms. On the other hand, Nepali American voters themselves may not be putting forth sufficient effort to acquaint themselves with the candidates and their policy positions.

Language Barrier Impedes Effective Communication

One of the most significant hurdles obstructing effective communication between candidates and Nepali American voters is the language barrier. Ghimire points out that “the language barrier also stands as the primary obstacle to comprehending the candidates’ agendas.” Many Nepali American voters are not fluent in English, making it challenging for them to grasp the intricacies of campaign promises and policy proposals presented in a language they may not fully comprehend.

Voter Awareness Gap

The disconnection between candidates and Nepali American voters is further exacerbated by a dearth of voter awareness within the community. Ghimire’s observation that “a majority of Nepali American voters are uncertain about which positions to vote for and who the candidates are in local and state level elections” underscores the imperative for targeted initiatives aimed at educating and informing the Nepali American electorate about the electoral process.

Implications for New York’s Presidential Elections

Historically, New York’s presidential elections have been dominated by the Democratic Party. The state’s consistent support for Democratic candidates has fostered a perception that election outcomes are predetermined. Consequently, candidates, particularly those from the Democratic Party, may allocate fewer resources to campaigning in New York, presuming that victory is assured.

This perception of New York as a “safe state” can engender voter apathy and disillusionment. When voters believe that their state’s outcome is predetermined, they may perceive their participation in the national election as less significant.

Statistics indicate that nearly 11,000 Nepali American voters reside in New York. However, recent elections have witnessed a decline in their enthusiasm.

Author and Professor Rajan Thapalia, a resident of Jackson Heights, New York, offers his insights, stating, “Nepali-American voters lack enthusiasm and participation in elections. Candidates do not present their agendas in the Nepali language to Nepali American voters.”

Thapalia goes on to explain that because New York is a Democratic stronghold, some candidates, confident of their victory, may have disregarded the concerns of these voters. Consequently, Nepali American voters have grown disheartened and discouraged from visiting the polling stations and casting their votes.

Promoting Inclusivity and Encouraging Voter Participation

To counteract voter apathy and reestablish connections with Nepali American voters and other constituencies in New York, candidates must recognize the significance of every vote, irrespective of the state’s political inclinations. Engaging with constituents, regardless of party affiliation, becomes paramount in fostering a sense of inclusivity and encouraging voter participation.

Efforts aimed at educating voters about the importance of their role in the national election are essential. Candidates should remind citizens that their votes contribute to the overall electoral count, which ultimately determines the president. Such endeavors can serve as a potent motivator for increased voter participation.

Reconsidering Campaign Strategies in Safe States

Candidates ought to reconsider their campaign strategies in safe states like New York. By actively addressing local concerns and priorities, candidates can demonstrate their commitment to all voters, irrespective of their state’s political alignment.

Upholding Democratic Principles

Bridging the gap between Nepali American voters and the political landscape in New York is not just about inclusivity; it is also about upholding democratic values. While New York may boast a dominant Democratic majority, candidates must ensure that every voter feels heard, valued, and motivated to participate in the electoral process. Only through these endeavors can New York continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s future while upholding a robust and inclusive democratic tradition. It is imperative that both candidates and the Nepali American community collaborate to overcome the barriers to engagement and ensure that every voice resonates in the democratic process.

This article is part of U.S. Democracy Day, a nationwide collaborative on Sept. 15, the International Day of Democracy, in which news organizations cover how democracy works and the threats it faces. To learn more, visit