By Sumaiya Malik
The runoff elections for the Democratic and Republican primaries are on July 14 and the South Asian American population has a say in the matter.
As a part of the fastest growing Asian American population in Greater Austin, South Asian constituents can make a difference by casting their vote. Major issues like the pandemic response, economic instability, police brutality, and education reform are at stake, so all South Asians should remain informed. Here is what is going on regarding the runoff.
You may remember that primaries took place on March 3rd. In 30 of the races, however, no candidate exceeded 50% of the vote automatically triggering runoff races between the two highest percentages of votes received. Runoff elections are scheduled for July, with early voting running from June 29 through July 10.
The upcoming runoffs are vital because winners will be on the ballot for the November general elections. A lot is at stake, especially as Covid-19 cases continue to increase in Texas, so voter turnout may be low.
I know I must brave the pandemic — while being safe, responsible and wearing a mask — to cast my vote since I don’t qualify for a mail in ballot thanks to the legal battle that ensued. Azra Siddiqi, founder of non-partisan non-profit WiseUp Texas, explained that the Democrats and Republican have been battling in the court to try and expand mail in ballot access due to Covid 19, but “the courts keep going back and forth.” The matter is expected to reach the Supreme Court of Texas.
In the meantime, for the local elections, “it’s going to be really important to wear the face mask… keep 6 feet distance, and a hand sanitizer [handy].”
Currently only people 65 and over who are disabled, out of the country, or confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote can apply for a ballot by mail.
Ashwin Ghatalia, President Asian American PAC and Co-Chair Austin Asian Complete Count Committee emphasized the runoff, “The date for selecting our candidates whom we will elect in November is upon us. Major effort [is being made] to make sure everyone is counted and now we must also put… emphasis on our primary runoffs.” With the Asian population on the rise, political action committees like Asian American PAC and EMGAGE have become more active in creating awareness and calling people to action.
South Asian American, Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, is part of the upcoming runoff on July 14 for Congress District 10. The winner between him and Mike Siegal will be a part of the ballot for 10th congressional district against current representative Michael McCaul.
With a Facebook following of about 2500, Gandhi is actively calling people to action. “Denial is not a strategy,” he said, “I’m a Texan, non-profit community doctor, dad of 3 kids & tired of being told to stay in my lane. Let’s defeat McCa
ul & flip this seat!”
But for him to be able to take McCaul on, he first has to be in the runoff against Mike Siegal, a civil rights lawyer and former public-school teacher who lost narrowly in the 2018 general election, to Incumbent Michael McCaul (R). McCaul defeated Siegel (D) 51% to 47%.
South Asian American Immigration attorney Pooja Sethi has been working in the legal arena for more than 14 years. She is running for local City Council position for District 10 in the November 3 elections.
While she is not part of the runoff, she is actively trying to raise awareness to problems in the city and asking people to use their voice. Dimple Malhotra (D) is running for election for judge of the Travis County Court at Law No. 4 in Texas. Malhotra is on the ballot in the Democratic primary runoff on July 14.
South Asians are surely paying attention and actively calling voters to responsibly make use of the extended early election period and make their impact.
Their collective vote has a say, especially this year. See the table for primary candidate information and don’t forget to cast your vote.