New Citizen Voters Helped Turn Georgia For Biden
One reason Georgians elected Joe Biden for president — by just under 12,000 votes — this year may be due to the number of new citizens in the state, especially those from Asian countries, who showed up to vote in large numbers.
“It was exhilarating,” said Debashri Sengupta, who was born in India and voted for the first time in Georgia this year. “We couldn’t believe we were finally voting in a presidential election.”
She is one of 65,000 new immigrants who became U.S. citizens in Georgia since 2017.
Sengupta registered to vote through the League of Women Voters, right after her citizenship ceremony. The group has signed up more than 33,000 new immigrant voters over the past three years.
For Sengupta, who waited 14 years to become a citizen and vote, just getting registered was not enough.
“I was like, if I ever get the chance to vote, I’m going to make sure other people vote. Now I’m like an evangelist. I help register people to vote. I call up my friends and say, ‘There is this little election coming up, but your voice is needed. It can make a difference,’” she said.
Sengupta and other immigrants can now point to the thin 12,000-vote margin that put Biden over the top in Georgia.
She lives in Johns Creek, where Asian Americans are credited with helping to turn a Republican state House district blue in 2018, when Democrat Angelika Kausche — herself an immigrant from Germany — won the seat by just over 300 votes.
“It is one of the most-educated districts in the state, if not in the country. It’s also a very affluent district,” Kausche said.
A district with very good schools in Georgia would typically be solid Republican — were it not for its sizable Asian American population, which helped Kausche get reelected this year with a decisive 52% majority.
“This district, because of the shift in demographics, is trending blue. Republicans tried to get it back, but they couldn’t,” Kausche said.
The growing number of immigrant citizens is one reason Georgia’s electorate has diversified faster than that of other Southern states, according to an analysis by New American Economy, an immigration research group, that shows that the share of registered minority voters in Georgia grew by 4.5% over the past decade.
Minorities now make up 42% of the electorate in Georgia compared to just 31% in North Carolina, a state many pundits had considered a swing state to watch, according to New American Economy researcher Andrew Lim.
“North Carolina, which had been touted as a state to watch that would swing to Democrat at least in the presidential election, that just didn’t pan out,” he said.
Lim says Atlanta’s reputation as a pro-business, diverse place with a lot of universities has attracted more immigrants and minorities to Georgia in recent years — more than other Southern states.