Voting – A Fundamental Civil Duty

The Los Angeles Dawoodi Bohra Community was founded by a community of  mostly first generation immigrants. Our members come from all over the world and follow our spiritual leader’s teachings, His Holiness, Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. He urges us to remain law abiding patriotic citizens, and voting is part of being a valued and engaged citizen. As former immigrants, now naturalized citizens, we take this right to thoughtfully and solemnly cast our vote and participate with full enthusiasm in the electoral process.

Los Angeles county allows for early voting. Concerns of standing in long lines during a pandemic, made most community members decide to cast their votes before election day. The big-ticket item on the ballot was the US Presidential race, and opinions differed on who is the better candidate. As an immigrant-minority, one would assume that in a small business community of color that believes strongly in exercising their civic duty, choosing which candidates, along with other local propositions that affect us as a community, would be an easy decision.

Learning about local issues on the ballot not only makes you into an engaged voter but one who cares about the community in which  he or she lives.

An educated voter is an engaged voter. A ballot with all the different propositions can be confusing. Many children in our community had come of voting age and were first-time voters. Adam Hussain, a 17year old community member and Chief of Staff of I amA Teen Voter organization, was part of a podcast, Contested Politics. that aired in October. This podcast aimed to inform and illuminate the local community members about the ballot’s different local propositions. He was also instrumental in bringing Proposition 18 on the ballot, a measure to raise the voting age to 17 years. These young folks are enthusiastic and more civically engaged than their parents. They care to be educated fully on all the pros and cons of an issue. The Contested Politics  podcast gave an overview of each proposition in under five minutes in a nutshell, for those who were short on time and needed a quick education of what each proposition meant. Adam argued that the cost-benefit analysis of spending thirty minutes of your day being educated on a proposition that will impact you for the next two years is a good deal. Learning about local issues on the ballot not only makes you into an engaged voter but one who cares about the community in which  he or she lives.

This election has been historical in creating voter interest but also for developing anxiety. The two Presidential candidates significantly differ on many of the issues we care about, like COVID-19 related health issues, climate change, economic growth, institutional justice, an impartial judiciary, law and order, etc.  There was a massive voter turnout and much debate. It was no surprise that many of us experienced some apprehension at the outcome. It has caused many to suffer from what doctors’ call “Election Stress Disorder.”

California has always been portrayed as a blue Democratic state though it has a sizable red Republican party base, and as our state, none of us are pure blue or red but are some shade of purple in our views. We may disagree with each other about where we stand on specific issues and candidates. Still, ultimately, we need to live with each other, which calls for civility and politeness and the ability to respect one another enough to listen. Our LA community may be small, but the members care for our community and are proud to belong to a county and a city that has given us so much. Consequently, we want to reciprocate by being engaged and contributing citizens.