Bangladeshi Voting Fever in the Boroughs

Bangladesh Society of New York puts your election obsession to shame

Most people had no trouble using the machines—Aziz had sponsored training workshops a few weeks earlier.

Outside, the security guards ushered people off the sidewalk, appearing more like bouncers at a nightclub than supervisors of an election. (At one point, even the election commissioner himself was told to clear the area.) Armed plainclothes NYPD officers were also standing by.

"We are born into politics," said Mia, adding that Bangladeshis love Barack Obama. "It's the way we grow up—politics, politics," he said. "Americans don't seem to care that much."

Danny Hellman

Few people, however, could name the Bangladesh Society's accomplishments during the previous year.

"For hundreds of years, we were suppressed by the Dutch. And then by the British. And we fought them! But nobody could rule us forever. We really like to get involved to change our fate," said commissioner Sultan. He paused a moment, and then noted that in Bangladesh itself, the political system is woefully corrupt. "But it never changes that much."

After the votes were counted, Aziz had won by a 75 percent margin.

"I never thought I was actually that popular," he said a few days after the raucous day of voting. "It's unbelievable. I just couldn't believe how much people like me."

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