Recent victories by Chinese candidates are helping the census drive this year, but New York’s Chinese community has already seen how the census count has helped to shape its political power in bitter and joyful ways.
Tag: Chinese voters
NEW YORK – Yan Tai, World Journal reporter
On this Election Day, Chinatown in Manhattan is not hustle-and-bustle as usual. Stores see smaller crowds due to the closure of government offices and schools. The unlikely busy places turned out to be the polling sites where a higher-than-ever turnout rate is observed.
There were no long lines at polling sites in Chinatown this morning. Voters were evenly spread throughout the morning. Voters reported they had no problems with the voting machines or language service at the sites. The local Board of Elections had allocated about 700 Chinese translators across the city.
At one of the rich pockets of votes in Chinatown, Confucius Plaza housing complex, poll workers said they saw more people coming out to vote. Stephen Chan, a translator on the site, told me that there were probably 30 percent more voters in the morning session than at comparable times in previous presidential elections.
Eddie Chao, a community advocate, has been watching the election since 6 AM. He estimated over 500 votes had been cast by 11 AM. He said this site recorded about 1,080 votes in the 2004 presidential election. “It should well exceed this record today,” Chao said.
Retirees and stay-at-home moms constituted the majority of people who voted during the day. I saw seniors in wheelchairs and housewives holding grocery bags come in to vote.
Justin Yu, president of Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, also a resident of Confucius Plaza, estimated there is a 50-50 percent split between Barack Obama and John McCain supporters among local voters. The site home to most of Chinatown’s Republicans.
On the other side of Chinatown at P.S. 1, there were many first-time voters – new immigrants from Fukien province. Most voters here were concerned about the economy. Obama seemed to be better received among them.
Fukienese immigrant Ms. Chen, who declined to give her first name, voted while her 11-year-old daughter observed. She told me she believes the Democratic Party is more democratic and friendly to new immigrants and that’s why she voted for Obama.
“I want to give him a chance,” she said. “I certainly want him to fix the economy.”
Ellen Liu, 19, also voted for the first time. She never hesitated to vote for Obama. Asked how it felt to cast her first vote, she said: “Not what I expected, I thought at least the voting machine should be more high-tech than this.” New York State uses old-style voting machines.
Liu also said she was disappointed that the high publicity of the presidential election overshadowed the rest of the race.
As America votes Tuesday, we will bring you reports from polling places in immigrant and ethnic neighborhoods across the U.S.
Follow Election Day from the perspective of immigrant journalists in battleground states Florida and New Hampshire, as well as Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York.
- We’ll tell you how the election is going for first-time voters.
- We’ll cover efforts to make sure that voting goes smoothly in immigrant neighborhoods and that all the votes are counted.
- We’ll report on the mood among Latino, Chinese, Haitian, Arab and South Asian voters as they cast their ballots in this historic election.
- We’ll bring you photos of voting in immigrant communities across the country.