Tag: first-time voters

Immigration NewsLatino

Latin American Immigrants Come Out in Force to Vote for Obama

Diego Graglia, FI2W blog editor

Latin American immigrants became an important segment of the American electorate in this election, representing forty percent of the overall Hispanic vote, according to data released this afternoon by pro-immigrant organization America’s Voice.

Initial estimates indicate that about 10 million Hispanics voted in this election, maintaining their 8 percent share of the national electorate in a year in which more Americans voted than in previous contests. While the percentage was the same, the size of the Hispanic electorate increased considerably from the 7.6 million Latinos who cast their votes in 2004 and the almost six million who did so in 2000.

Mexicans, Dominicans, and immigrants from Central and South American countries “voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama for president,” according to pollster Sergio Bendixen, whose firm Bendixen and Associates conducted exit polls among Latino voters in Los Angeles and Miami. Bendixen said 78 percent of Latin American immigrant voters chose the Democratic candidate and 22 percent supported Republican John McCain.

Support for Obama was lower –61 percent– among U.S. born Hispanics, who were 50 percent of all Hispanic voters.

The remaining 10 percent of the Hispanic electorate is composed of two groups of non-immigrant Latinos: Cuban refugees and Puerto Rican U.S. citizens. While Puerto Ricans split 77 to 23 percent in favor of Obama, Bendixen reported, Cubans were the only subgroup to prefer John McCain, by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.

“Thirty-two percent of all Latin American immigrants who voted (in this election) were first-time voters,” Bendixen said today during a conference call with national media.

“There is no doubt that the immigration issue played a very important part in getting them involved in this presidential contest,” Bendixen added, indicating that the recent divisive immigration reform debate may well have energized many Latinos to vote this year, and helped Obama win the Presidency.

(more…)

Immigration News

What Motivates Immigrant Voters?: A Radio Interview With FI2W's Aswini Anburajan

Speaking today on PRI’s The World Aswini Anburajan talks about the reasons so many first-time immigrant voters showed up at the polls today in New York City.

Press play to listen to her conversation with The World host Lisa Mullins or click here to visit the show’s page.

[audio:http://64.71.145.108/audio/1104086.mp3]
DetroitImmigration News

Long Lines Don't Stop Latino Voters in Southwest Detroit

DETROIT, MI – By Martina Guzman, FI2W Reporter

Undeterred by long lines, Latino voters in Southwest Detroit came out in droves today to cast their ballot for president.

“This is the election where Latinos are really going to count,” said 77-year-old Bill Ojeda, a Korean War veteran. Ojeda was a little shy about saying he voted for Obama, but quickly remarked that he liked Obama’s philosophy in dealing with global conflict.

“I don’t mind taking care of the world but I think we should take care of America first,” Ojeda said.

The unusually warm weather for November made voting seem like a community event. Neighbors exchanged friendly ‘hellos’ and asked each other about whom to vote for in local races. Latina mothers, grandmothers and first-time voters arrived together. Twenty-year-old Eliseo Fuentes was thrilled to be voting for the first time. He was well informed, articulate and said immigration is the most important issue for him.

“Neither candidate is talking about immigration,” he said. Ultimately, Fuentes made his decision based on who he though would be better equipped to handle America’s financial crisis. “We live here and we need someone who can take care of the economy now,” he said.

(more…)

AsianHaitianImmigration NewsLatino

On Election Day, Feet In 2 Worlds Covers The Immigrant Vote

Ellis Island, by Laverrue.

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.

You can also listen to Election Day coverage by Feet in Two Worlds reporters on PRI’s The World and The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio.

Immigration NewsVideos

First-Generation Immigrant Voters: The ‘Weird Dichotomy’ of Being Puerto Rican

Feet In 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales wraps up her video series on first-generation voters with an interview with Andrea Moya, who was born in Puerto Rico in 1986 and moved to New York four years ago to attend college.

Moya, who is originally from Guaynabo, works in film development in New York. In the video, she explains the particular relationship Puerto Ricans have with U.S. politics –“a weird dichotomy,” she calls it–, since only those who live in one of the fifty states are allowed to vote in American elections.

While Andrea’s family in the islands is interested in the U.S. elections, they cannot participate. At the same time, she is not voting in Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial election, but she plans to cast a vote for Barack Obama Tuesday. This will be the second presidential election she has participated in.

Immigration NewsNew YorkQueensVideos

First Time, First Generation Voters: From Guyana, A Conservative Point of View

Feet in 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales is interviewing first-time, first-generation voters — youngsters born to immigrant families who this year will formally take part in their first election.

In this new video, Jocelyn talks to Avinash Ramsadeen, a recent college grad from New York now working for Fox News online. His parents are originally from Guyana, a tiny South American country that, according to the CIA’s World Factbookachieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then … has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments.” Although it’s neighbors with Venezuela and Brazil, Guyana is not considered a Latin American nation since it was colonized by the Dutch and British. The main population groups are of black African and Indian heritage.

Ramsadeen, who grew up in Jamaica, Queens, says those earlier leftist Guyanese governments strongly influenced his parents into more conservative views, many of which he shares. Here, he talks about his and his parents’ involvement in U.S. elections, and about the issues that influenced his decision to support Republican candidate John McCain.

HaitianImmigration News

First-Time Voters in a Battleground State: Immigrants Step Up to the Polls in South Florida

Election worker Pierre Audain (left) looks on as first-time voter Lucille Dorasme, 79, practices using a Florida voting machine.

Election worker Pierre Audain (left) looks on as first-time voter Lucille Dorasme, 79, practices using a Florida voting machine.

This post is by Macollvie Jean-François, a reporter at the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A couple of weeks ago, while talking about the presidential election at a Fort Lauderdale strip mall, Gregory Fleurinor, 31, took his voter registration card out of his wallet. He wanted to prove that he is registered — and indeed he has been since January 2006.

Fleurinor, however, has never used the card. The clammy feel of the paper, a result of being pressed against other cards in his wallet, ignored, attests to that. Barely a month before the election, the Haitian-American delivery driver said he still hadn’t made up his mind about whether he would vote.

“I’m just not used to voting, I’ve never done it,” Fleurinor said, shrugging. “I haven’t decided if I will go [to the polls]. Everyone else is going, what difference will it make if I don’t go?”

Groups in immigrant communities have been working feverishly to ensure people like Fleurinor do vote. They are targeting both newly naturalized Americans and those who simply never bothered to go to the polls in the past.

Events like a free Jay-Z-Wyclef Jean concert in Miami on Oct. 5, which one immigrant empowerment advocate called “awareness builders,” receive great attention, but they do not necessarily get people out to vote. What does translate into ballots are other, less flashy, ongoing efforts by community and advocacy groups, like door-to-door canvassing, phone calls and simulated voting exercises.

The latter combat the fear many immigrants and first-time voters have about their debut in the polling booth. Some simply do not know enough about how to cast their vote; others still harbor fears that stem from chaotic, even dangerous, experiences in their birth countries.

(more…)

AsianImmigration NewsVideos

Mom, Dad, I’m Voting: A First-Time, First-Generation Voter

First-time voters are getting lots of attention this year — both foreign-born Americans who have recently become naturalized citizens and American-born young people who’ve just reached voting age. Patrick Ng falls into the latter group, but he also comes from an immigrant background: he’s a first-time voter and a first-generation American.

Born in 1987 to parents who immigrated from Myanmar in the 1970s, Patrick is a filmmaker and a third-year student at New York University. He says he’s the one who brings an American influence into his family’s home, and that his parents -who are now U.S. citizens- don’t seem overly concerned with the political process in general and this election in particular. Watch him talk about this and more in this video by Feet in 2 Worlds‘ Jocelyn Gonzales:

As voters, Asian Americans don’t get paid the same attention as other ethnic groups. This is partly because they are underrepresented on the voter rolls. But they could be more important than ever this election year for one key reason: they tend to be an independent-minded voting population, without a clear, long-standing affiliation to either of the parties. Asian American voters could have a potentially pivotal role in states like Virginia and Nevada.

A “groundbreaking” national survey of Asian American voters released last week showed that a majority of them intend to vote for Barack Obama, but that also there are still very significant numbers of undecided among them. The figures were: 41% for Obama, 24% for John McCain, and 34% undecided. This contrasts with the eight percent considered undecided among the general population. [To get the National Asian American Survey, visit this site.]

Asian-Americans’ preference for Obama seems clear. Columnist Jeff Yang went as far as to ask whether Barack Obama could “be the first Asian American president?”

Patrick Ng’s heightened interest in the presidential campaign is not unusual for first-generation Asian Americans this year. It was young activists who created “Asian Americans for” websites in support of both Obama and McCain. And, across the country, young Asian American organizations are trying to build political muscle and get others involved.

Still, some wonder if Asian American young people will turn out in large enough numbers to make a difference. “Who is the Asian American vote? ” asks Glenn Magpantay, a staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York. “I’m actually not sure that it’s young people,” he observes.

Speaking at a recent Feet in Two Worlds forum, Magpantay said, “Young people, especially on four-year college campuses have played a tremendous role in these elections. But for Asian Americans we actually find that 18 to 29 year olds have the lowest voter participation rates. It tends to be those over 50, it’s our parents. And so the family lacks a history of voting. The parents don’t vote because they are not citizens, the kids don’t vote either because no one has approached them about what to do. And for some political parties Asian Americans are not a reliable voting bloc.”