11/22/2017
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Minnesota Somalis embrace Election Day


Wednesday November 8, 2017
By Jana Shortal



MINNEAPOLIS - In the mid to late 1990’s, Minneapolis become home to thousands of Somali refugees.

We now have the largest population in the United States.

And today, on Election Day, we were shown something absolutely remarkable about our Somali community in Minneapolis’ Ward 6.

They voted early at seven times the rate of other areas in the city.

As first and second generation immigrants they are taking their civic duty to a record-breaking level.
Ali Isse has been getting out the vote early in Ward 6 and his response to this?

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“It’s just a normal campaign. (We are) just working a little bit harder,” Isse said with a shrug.

That’s a humbling way to describe it but the reality is too important to not say out loud. These Somali Americans hold a passion to vote because they know, more than many of us born in the U.S. know what it means to be able to do so.

“This is one of our dreams you know, the reason that we are here because we never had a good democratic system and once you get one you will enjoy it and that’s why people are eager and happy to go out and make sure their voices are heard,” Isse said.

It’s simply beautiful really. To watch a community embrace democracy that way. Especially when that community hasn’t been as embraced by the American community.

“A lot of times we are a stereotyped like, oh Somalis they can’t integrate or they can’t get along with other people but that’s not true and this is one of the ways we can prove you know hey we just like everybody else,” Isse said.

Well, in this way, not even in the slightest with these kinds of voting numbers.



And to be specific to Ward 6, look at the city council race they are voting ON. A race with three Somali candidates.

“Even though we are still first and second generation here generally our community is very active in terms of what is going around on local and national level and there are a lot of issues now in terms of the immigrant refugees and all kind of things,” Isse said.

It’s a classic American idea. If you don’t like the way the system works, do two things. Vote. And. Run.
“We’d rather have more on the ballot than not and that’s something we are really proud about,” Isse said.



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