Tag: Yan Tai

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Asian American Watchdog Group Cites Voting Day Irregularities

NEW YORK – Yan Tai, World Journal reporter

As Election Day drew to an end, an Asian American watchdog group said there were more problems among Asian American voters than people thought.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights organization based in New York, said Tuesday that for many Asian American voters things did not go that smoothly. The group sent 1,400 attorneys, law students and community volunteers to cover 130 polling sites in eleven states with large Asian American populations which have seen election day glitches for Asian American voters in the past.

Problems cited by the group included long lines, delays, and poll-worker confusion over ID requirements, as well as anecdotes of voting rights violations. These problems were also experienced by other voters, but the group argues that the problems hit Asian American voters harder because of language barriers.

The group received hundreds of complaints via its Election Day hot line, said Margaret Fung, AALDEF’s executive director.

The problems reported included:

— Voters who could not find their names on the voter rolls. For instance, at P.S. 250 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, several voters claimed they had voted in previous elections but their names were not on the voter rolls.

— Improper requests for voter ID. At P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one voter was told to go home to get an ID in order to vote. No interpreters were available to explain why this was needed.

— Racial remarks used against immigrant voters. At P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, two Arab American voters asked a few questions, and after they walked out, AALDEF volunteers heard a poll worker say, “They look like terrorists to me.”

— Violation of voters’ civil rights. In Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a Chinese American grandmother needed assistance voting and asked her granddaughter to help her cast her ballot. A poll worker prevented her from bringing her family member into the voting booth, in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

— Inadequate assistance in Asian languages.

— Broken voting machines.

— Delays and long lines and scarcity of poll workers. In New Orleans, some Vietnamese American voters had to wait two hours to vote at Sarah T. Reed High School in Orleans Parish, while at Mary Queens of Viet Nam Church, voters had to wait almost three hours to vote.

AsianImmigration News

High Turnout: First-Time and Immigrant Voters Come Out to Vote in New York’s Chinatown

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.

AsianImmigration NewsLatino

Weekend Roundup: Chinese American Families Seek Common Ground Over McCain and Obama; Presidential Campaigns Battle (in Spanish) Over Immigration; Obama Speaks to Voters en Español

One third of Asian American voters still have not decided who to vote for in the presidential election, according to a recent survey. Yan Tai, a reporter for the Chinese-language daily World Journal and Feet in Two Worlds, says younger Chinese Americans are helping their parents overcome their ambivalence about the candidates. In an interview Friday on PRI’s The World, Yan talked about Chinese American families where young people who support Barack Obama have convinced their more conservative immigrant parents to vote for the Democratic candidate.

Click here to listen to the interview.

PRI's The World

Earlier this week La Opinión reporter and columnist Pilar Marrero, who is also a FI2W journalist, appeared on The World to talk about Spanish-language radio and TV ads being run by the McCain and Obama campaigns. She explained how both candidates are battling over who has the best record on immigration, but only in Spanish-language media. They almost never mention immigration to English-speaking audiences.

On Friday, Marrero reported on her blog about a new Obama ad in which the Democratic candidate speaks to the audience entirely in Spanish. Marrero notes that up ’till now both campaigns have used Spanish-speaking announcers in their ads. But in this new, soon-to-be released commercial, it’s Obama who is doing the talking, telling Hispanic voters that he shares “their dream.” According to Marrero, Obama doesn’t actually know how to speak Spanish. In the ad he pronounces the script phonetically. But she says his pronunciation “isn’t bad at all.”