This year’s midterm elections saw a great turnout among Chinese voters in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Election workers at voting stations said that, although the turnout was not as high as it has been for presidential and mayoral elections, the number of Chinese voters casting their ballots this year exceeded expectations, despite the fact that this year the only Chinese candidate was Judge Jeffrey Oing, who ran for supervising judge.
There were four polling stations at Confucius Plaza. By 2 p.m., more than 400 people had voted. According to election workers, more than 900 people were estimated to have voted, which was far more than the 600 ballots cast during the primaries. Furthermore, 80 percent of the voters at these sites were Chinese. Based on the presidential election turnout data, 800 voters had been expected to cast their ballots at Confucius Plaza this year, but the actual number of voters exceeded that expectation.
At the Centre Street voting station, about 500 people were estimated to have voted, which was three times higher than the primary elections turnout. Because a NYU dormitory is located nearby, about 50 students from upstate New York came to vote and cast emergency ballots, since they had not changed their registered addresses.
Some parents brought their kids with them to show them the importance of voting. At the six stations located at P.S. 130, 607 ballots had been cast by 6 p.m. Staff at the site stated they were pleasantly surprised to see the level of turnout, even with such a small Chinese presence on the ballot, an indication that voter awareness among Chinese people has gradually increased. Many more Chinese voters came out for the general election however the lower turnout during the primaries could be attributed to a high number of registered Chinese voters had not affiliated themselves to a party.
At P.S. 1, Marylou Lopez, a Democratic inspector for the voting station, said that as of 3 p.m. a total of 108 ballots had been cast, and everything was running smoothly.
Michael Miso, who has worked at the P.S. 131 voting station for four years, said that a total of 431 ballots were cast, a record high for a midterm election. At closing time, about 1,000 votes were cast, and 85 percent of the voters were Chinese. Many of them were 60 or older; most were retired seniors. Some complained that the print on the ballots was too small to see, even with a magnifying glass. Due to the difficulty of reading the ballot, many voters left without voting. Young people also shared some of the same complaints.
Mr. Chen, an elderly Chinese voter, said, “I can’t see the words on the ballots very well. If you want me to vote, why do you want to intentionally make it difficult for me and to stop me from voting?”
Since many complaints were filed about the voting machines in the primary election, there were fewer complaints on November 2.
By Yi-Shan Song, World Journal, 3 November 2010. Translated from Chinese by Connie Yik Kong.