From One-Party Rule to the Two-Party System: Polish, Russian Immigrants Cautious as they Register to Vote
It took Ryszard Klimek seven years to register to vote.
Since he became a citizen in 2001, American politics was not a subject of his interest. “Politics in my country is a parody. So I lost interest in it and I didn’t feel like getting involved here either,” says Ryszard, 35, who came to America in 1995 and works as an electrician. When he was 16, the Communist regime that ruled Poland for decades tumbled. Since then the newly-created Polish democracy has turned into a rampant form of pluralism where parties easily come into being, merge or cease to exist, amidst divisions and disagreements.
To Ryszard, American politics seemed very different than what he knew from his home country, and not being proficient in English, it was very difficult for him to understand it. But this year he decided to finally register and vote.
“The candidates are more interesting and the issues are important,” said Ryszard, pointing out the war in Iraq, immigration reform, and the declining economy.
This year’s election ignites excitement across American society, including immigrant voters who hope to see the issues they care about addressed by the candidates.