Central Ohio new Americans urge other new citizens to vote

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They have a perspective many of us can't fully appreciate.

Bhuwan Pyrakurel spent 18 years in a Bhutanese refugee camp.

"In the refugee camp there are all kinds of people,” he said. “Babies are born there, and people are dying there."

Amadou Diallo was a journalist in West Africa persecuted for his words.

"I was kidnapped, and my hands tied behind my back, beaten up, shot at," he said.

They were rescued and resettled to the United States; Pyrakurel in 2009, Diallo in 2010.

Pyrakurel became a naturalized citizen last year, Diallo two months ago.

"My entire life until today, I never know that I belong to anywhere in the world,” said Pyrakurel. “I had never a place to call a home. To be a citizen means I have a place to live. And I can call this country my country."

"I am a proud American,” said Diallo. “I am not only proud, but grateful American- grateful to the people of America. I should have been a dead man.

This November, they will mark another milestone.

"For the first time- I am now 37 years old- and I am voting for my president for the first time in my life," Pyrakurel said.

“It's a big step forward,” said Diallo. “A big, big, big step forward."

The most recent numbers available from the Office of Immigration Statistics say in 2014 alone, more than 9,000 immigrants were naturalized in Ohio, becoming new Americans, and potential new voters.

But for these new Americans, there’s no “potential” about it.

"Voting is very important. It matters," said Sulega Hussein of Somali Women in Action.

“Be part of shaping the history of this country,” said Horsed Nooh of the Abubakar Assidiq Islamic Center.

They've made a date with the ballot box, and Tuesday they gathered outside Franklin County's Early Voting Center to urge others in their communities to do the same.

“I am participating and I am choosing a president of the most powerful nation on earth,” Pyrakurel said with a smile. “What I can do more than this?"

"I go around telling people one on one- don't just post your citizenship on Facebook, but go out and vote,” said Diallo. “You are now more than what you think you are. You are an American."

You can register to vote until October 11. Early voting in Ohio starts on October 12.

How to register to vote in Ohio

Registration requirements

  • Be a US citizen
  • Live at an Ohio address by Oct 9
  • Be 18 years old by Election Day, Nov 8
  • Not be in jail for a felony
  • Not currently be judged incompetent by a court
  • Not be permanently disqualified for violating an election law

By Mail

1. Download and print registration form or call 1-877-767-6446.

2. Fill out the form

3. Send the form to the Secretary of State, postmarked by October 11:

Secretary of State of Ohio

Elections Division

180 E. Broad Street – 15th Floor

Columbus, OH 43215

In Person

1. Pick up the registration form at your county board of elections, any BMV office, any county treasurer's office or any public library.

2. Fill out the form

3. Send the form in by mail or return in person county board of elections, any BMV office, any county treasurer’s office, or any public library by October 11.

Check if you're registered to vote