Record Election Turnout Among Chinese Voters
Despite Election Day coming right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, Chinese voters in Chinatown, Flushing and Brooklyn turned out in record numbers to cast their ballot for president, according to World Journal. The article below was translated from Chinese below.
New Yorkers faced the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with transportation woes, loss of power and water, and temperatures barely above 40. But these factors did not deter voter enthusiasm, even despite waiting on line for over an hour. In many polling places across Chinatown, turnout was either a record high or close to it. The active participation of Chinese-American voters has also changed the stereotype that Chinese-Americans do not vote.
Many voters cast their ballot in the morning before heading to work. When polling stations opened at 6 a.m., there were already many waiting in line. In polling stations across Chinatown, Flushing, and Brooklyn Chinatown on Eight Avenue, there were many lines, with some even snaking across two blocks. The second peak occurred at 5 p.m. Many people were still rushing to the polls before the 9 p.m. closing time. Much of the staff at the voting booths said that they did not have time to eat or to go to the restroom.
“There are so many people. We simply don’t have enough time,” they said.
Many of Chinatown’s voting booths saw a record-high turnout. In Confucius Plaza, more than 1,000 people turned out to vote. P.S. 130, which included eight districts, had almost 5,000 voters. The polling place at the courthouse located on Centre Street, which normally had only hundreds or even tens of voters, had almost 1,000 voters this time. P.S. 1, near East Broadway, had more than 350 people by 1 p.m.
“Seven out of 10 voters are Chinese-American,” one Chinese translator said. Many Chinese voters said that they cast their vote for Obama and incumbent Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The presidential election attracted residents who have normally not been very active voters. Mr. Sun, who was temporarily staying with relatives after losing power and water, said that he did not know that those displaced by Sandy could vote at any polling station. It took him four hours of bus and subway transfers to vote.
Many college students and elderly voted for the first time.
“This is my right,” they said. “I am poor, so I definitely voted for Obama.”
Many college students supported Obama’s policy on low-interest student loans.
Before Sandy hit, one voter couldn’t make up his mind on which candidate to vote for. But in the end, he went for Obama, after the president visited the region devastated by the hurricane while Romney did not.
Although New York is a Democratic state, there were still many who voted for Romney. Ms. Sun, who works at a garment factory and voted once four years ago, said, “Obama is a good guy, but he is too lax. The poor get welfare with no need to work. I’m over 50 years old and work from morning to night and earn a little more than $20,000 a year. I have to pay taxes but I do not have health insurance. A friend of mine has a family of five and both parents rarely work. With three children, they get food stamps worth about $1,000 a month. They also get a tax credit of about $10,000 a year. Obama encourages lazy people. This country’s [fiscal] hole is just too deep!”