The November 2004 election was one of the most closely watched races in recent years. Voter turnout in the United States was the highest since the 1968 federal election, and the Korean American community was one of the voices heard loud and clear that day.NAKASEC and its affiliates — Korean Resource Center (KRC), the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC), and YKASEC-Empowering the Korean American Community â€“ led education, assistance, and advocacy efforts on election day.
On the weeks leading up to Election and throughout Election Day, KRC, KRCC, and YKASEC were inundated with calls from Korean American voters with inquiries that ranged from how to vote, polling site locations, and voter discrimination. On Election Day alone YKASEC and KRC fielded 220 and 317 calls respectively.
In conjunction with local and national partners, KRC, KRCC, and YKASEC were able to poll almost 1100 Korean Americans in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Flushing, New York.One of the only organizations to look at Korean American voting behavior and trends, exit polling is invaluable in informing our work and servicing the Korean American electorate.Preliminary findings were available to the community within two days of November 2.Some key findings include:
– Korean Americans favored Democratic candidate John Kerry over Republican candidate George Bush in all three cities: 58% to 40% in Los Angeles; 50.3% to 46.3% in Chicago; and 59.9% to 29.3% in Flushing.
– First time voters made a strong showing at the polls.225 respondents or 32% were first time voters in Flushing; 46 respondents or 31% in Chicago; and 87 respondents or 38% in Los Angeles.
– The exit polls also gave insight into what Korean Americans believe to be the most important factors in choosing a president.In Flushing, crime in neighborhoods, healthcare, and terrorism / security were ranked the highest. In Los Angeles economy / jobs, foreign policy, and civil rights / immigrant right were most important.And in Chicago, economy / jobs, civil rights / immigrant rights, and terrorism / security were chosen.
– NAKASEC was also able to gauge which immigrant rights / civil rights were most important to Korean Americans. Civil liberties, affirmative action, hate crimes / racial profiling, and visa backlogs were ranked high in Los Angeles and Chicago.
Efforts to ensure that Korean American voters had fair access to the polls continued on Election Day.In New York, YKASEC mobilized 30 bilingual pollworkers to ensure that Korean American voters were receiving the appropriate language assistance they needed to vote. In Los Angeles, KRC monitored three poll sites in Koreatown as well as distributed “I would like to vote with a provisional ballot” cards for those voters whose names were not in the voter registration rolls and/or whose identities were questioned.Chicago’s KRCC made available their voter education tool kit, which included voter instructions, candidates list, a how to vote sheet, an Asian Pacific Islander American fact sheet, as well as the “Vote 2004: How the Government Works and the Electoral Process.” Moreover, all three cities distributed bilingual voter bill of rights palm cards so that voters may exercise their rights when faced with discriminatory practices.