- They have registered themselves with the Federal Election Commission and are directly running for the top post, unlike Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy who are in contention for the GOP nomination.
The field for the 2024 U.S. presidential elections is already very crowded, not just with well-known candidates, but with hundreds of unknown contenders. Among them are several Indian and South Asian Americans who are wanting to move into the White House. They have registered with the Federal Election Commission even though it is highly doubtful that their names will appear on the official ballot.
Unlike former U.S. Ambassador to the U.S. and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who are running to earn a nomination from the Republican Party, these candidates are directly running for the U.S. president post. While some of them are registered members of the two dominant parties — Democrats and Republicans — a few of them are running from fringe parties.
The list of South Asian American candidates registered with the FTC includes Ajay Thaliath (Democrat); Mohammad Kabir (Other); Shabadjot Singh Bharara (Democrat); Islam Karam Mossaad (Republican); Anand Peter Sharma (Write-in); Naresh Vissa (Freedom Party); Azeem Hussein (Democrat).
Some like Mohammad Kabir are also running for state elections. Kabir, who has declared his presidential run as Other, is also running as a candidate from the Rights Tranquility Peace Party for New Jersey State Senate to represent District 5. He is on the ballot in the Nov. 7 general election. Then there’s a write-in candidate — Anand Peter Sharma. Wikipedia defines a write-in candidate as “a candidate whose name does not appear on the ballot but seeks election by asking voters to cast a vote for the candidate by physically writing in the person’s name on the ballot.” Meanwhile, Ballotpedia notes that the Freedom Party, which Naresh Vissa is representing, is not a ballot-qualified party.
There is almost no information available about these South Asian American candidates; they don’t seem to have any social media presence or a campaign website. It is not clear if these candidates are even U.S. born — a prerequisite to be U.S. president — or are born in India like Shiva Ayyadurai, who is also declared himself a candidate for the presidency. Hence, it’s safe to assume that none of these candidates will make it to the official ballot.
According to Ballotpedia, “there were 209 state-level ballot-qualified political party affiliates in the United States as of December 2021.” Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are recognized in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and account for 102 of the 209 total state-level parties. Three minor parties are recognized in more than 10 states as of December 2021. They are the Libertarian Party (33 states); Green Party (17 states), and Constitution Party (12 states).
So how many people can run for U.S. president, and who is eligible?
A 2016 report in The Washington Post says, “Nearly 2,500 people have run for president since 1980.” They have all filled out “the requisite” form with the Federal Election Commission, which, The Post describes as “remarkably trivial to do.”
According to the official website of the U.S. government, candidates for president of the United States must be natural-born U.S. citizens, be at least 35 years old, and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years. “Anyone who meets these requirements can declare their candidacy for president,” the website says. “Once a candidate raises or spends more than $5,000 for their campaign, they must register with the Federal Election Commission” including naming a principal campaign committee to raise and spend campaign funds.
Over the years, there’s been a lot of discussion about the first clause of eligibility for a U.S. president — being a natural-born citizen. It comes up for debate every election cycle, most prominently in 2020 when skeptics speciously pointed to the immigration status of Vice President Kamala Harris’ parents who were born in India and Jamaica.
According to a blog on the London School of Economics and Political Science website, Valere Gaspard writes that the restriction of being a natural U.S. citizen “makes the U.S. an outlier compared to most other liberal democracies which do not use a hierarchy of citizenship in determining eligibility for elected or appointed leaders.” Gaspard is a research fellow at Western University’s Leadership and Democracy Lab. “Over 20 million American citizens are excluded from this part of the American Dream if they would like to become president because one must be a natural-born citizen of the United States to do so.”
It is an argument Shiva Ayyadurai has advanced for many years. The scientist and entrepreneur who’s running as an Independent candidate was born in Mumbai, and hence does not qualify to run for the office. He has made several arguments against the clause, calling it “unconstitutional.”
Meanwhile, FEC data reveals that Ayyadurai first filed his papers on April 9, and currently has total contributions amounting to $20,128.83. Ballotpedia says Ayyadurai is also running for election to the U.S. Senate to represent Massachusetts. He declared his candidacy for the 2024 election.