Tag Archive | "Election 2012"

Ethnic America Goes to the Polls

Reporters from the New York Torch visited polling places in the New York City and Jersey City area to ask first-time voters from ethnic communities about their experiences, opinions and hopes for America.

Click on the pictures to know their stories.

Reporting by Mea Ashley, Yvonne Bang, Magdalene Castro, William Denselow, Shaukat Hamdani, Colleen McKown, Michael Orr, MaryAlice Parks, Nia Phillips, Griselda Ramirez, Rebecca Sanchez and Charlotte Stafford.
Edited by Jay Devineni, Lorelai Germain, Stephen Jiwanmall, Ntshepeng Motema and Christina Thorne.
Complied by Dhiya Kuriakose.

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[VIDEO] Palestinian-American Pride at the Polls

20-year-old Aber Kawas, a Palestinian-American and activist, heads to the polls for the first time. William Denselow reports.

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Cancer Patient Makes it to the Polls

Gladys Kamara, a 56-year-old woman with cancer, said that not even her deteriorating health would keep her from the polls. Healthcare, she said, is one of the reasons she is so adamant to vote.

Reporting by Shaukat Hamdani

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High Latino Support for Obama in Spanish Harlem

Latinos most concerned with economy and immigration

By Griselda Denise Ramirez and Mea Ashley

A constant flow of people entered a public school through a fenced-in playground in East Harlem on Tuesday to cast their votes — most of them Latinos who said they voted for President Barack Obama.

The preferences of the highly Latino-populated community, sometimes known as Spanish Harlem, mirrors the results of a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center released last month.   The study found that registered Latino voters favor Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 69 percent to 21 percent.

Lida Cabeza, of Colombia, voted at Public School 72 located on East 104th Street.

“I am very interested that Obama wins because he truly is with all the people that need the most help – the elderly and children,” said Cabeza. 63. “He provides lots of help for the poor.”

Omar Batista walked about a block from his home to P.S. 72 to vote for the first time. Batista, 31, said he was excited to vote for Obama.

“It is great,” said Batista. “I feel like I now count.”

Batista, who was born in the Dominican Republic and has been living in Manhattan for the past 22 years, made his voting experience a family affair. His mother and two uncles accompanied him to the voting poll.

His main concern: the economy.

“It worries me that someone who wants to increase taxes for the middle class gets to be president. That troubles me,” said Batista. “As the middle class we have to work really hard for our money.”

According to a Pew Research Center study, 54 percent of Hispanic voters cite jobs and the economy as the top issues on their minds.

Daniel Olivarez, also from the Dominican Republic, voted for Obama a second time.

“There are many Hispanics who are part of the high unemployment rate,” said Olivarez, 48. “I hope that in the second term the president can resolve that.”

Olivarez said he has a few family members and relatives who are not yet American citizens. He said he hopes Obama wins so he can implement the immigration reform he promised in his first term.

Amid the high number of Obama supporters who voted at P.S. 72, there was at least one Romney supporter– Nancy Padilla, 65. Padilla, born in Puerto Rico, said Obama hasn’t done much in his four years as president to minimize the deficit, which is $1.1 trillion.

“I like all of Romney’s qualities,” said Padilla. The reasons she gave echoed the concerns of Obama voters. “He’s promised a lot of good things – education, helping immigrants and the economy,” she said of Romney.

According to the Pew Center, nearly 24 million Hispanics are eligible to vote, an increase of more than 4 million since 2008. Hispanics represent 11 percent of the nation’s eligible electorate, up from 9.5 percent in 2008.

Olivarez said that he and his family plan to watch the election returns at home on Tuesday night as they eat a traditional Dominican Republic dish of chicken, white rice and beans.

“Now let’s wait to see what happens,” said Olivarez. “Then we’ll celebrate.”

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Voter Potraits – Jersey City

The New York Torch spoke to voters exiting the New Jersey City University’s John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center, which had been transformed into a local polling center.

Chandra Berry (Left) celebrated her 20th birthday by going to the polls with her friend Tawannda Hill, 21 (second from left). Both women, who voted for the first time on Tuesday, said that they were raised in homes where voting was very highly valued.

Born in Egypt, Monir Khilla, 24, attained citizenship in April of 2009 and was excited to participate in his first presidential election.

Bishop Carl Williams, 71, has voted in every presidential election since he became eligible as a young man in Jersey City. The decisive issue in casting his vote, he said, was healthcare.

Obama supporter, Aboubacar Diawara, 18, stood outside of the building, where there was a mock ballot posted on the wall, and showed a friend how easy it was. The friend, who like Aboubacar is from Senegal , is not yet eligible to vote.

Yanazia Yates, 19 (left) and Tiara Abraham, 19, said that healthcare and education were their top priorities in considering who to vote for.

Neighbors and friends for many years, John Oshado, 81 (left) and James Gaynor, 78, walked to the polling center together from their homes just a few blocks away.

James Gaynor, 78

John Oshado, 81

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Language Barrier Creates Problems for Arab American Voters

Written by Jay Devineni

Reported by MaryAlice Parks, William Denselow, & Jay Devineni 

For many Arab Americans voting on Tuesday in Brooklyn, language barriers made it harder for their voices to be heard.  Despite Brooklyn’s large Arab population, there were no ballots available in Arabic.  However, the New York City Board of Elections does provide translations in Bengali, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.

The Arab American Association of New York has been campaigning since the summer to increase voter registration among Arab Americans.  But members of the organization have found that even registered Arab voters run into problems when it comes to reading the ballot.

“We found that we would either have to write it out or interpret it for them,” said Aber Kawas, 20, a voter registration fellow for the association.

In addition, the voting process in many Arab neighborhoods proved to be difficult on Election Day.

“It’s confusing and people are not very nice,” said Kawas, who voted Tuesday for the first time.  “It can be intimidating for immigrants.”

Kawas grew up and works in the area of Brooklyn known as Bay Ridge, where an estimated 35,000 Arab people live.  Kawas and other Arab Americans in the area were told to vote at Public School 200 at 1940 Benson Ave.  They arrived there Tuesday afternoon, only to find that the polling site was closed.  The school had a sign that directed them to St. Finbar Roman Catholic Church about two blocks away.  Upon arriving there, they were directed to a third polling site, Regina Pacis Housing Corps, which was over 15 blocks away.  The process was confusing for many Arab voters who didn’t speak English, and some couldn’t even take the extra time to vote.

Before Election Day, the Arab American Association’s staff tried to find out if election materials could be translated into Arabic.  In order to do this, they talked to the Kings County Board of Elections, which serves the borough of Brooklyn.  But when they asked if Arabic ballots were available, the Board of Elections was not very helpful.

“People would give you different information,” Kawas said.   “You never really knew if you could get it.”

Upon further research, the group found that translations were available in several languages, but Arabic was not one of them.

“Hindi was the closest we found,” Kawas said in reference to certain areas of Queens that have high percentages of South Asian people and have been granted Hindi interpreters.

Kawas said that if the South Asian community in Queens can get voting assistance in Hindi, then Arab Americans in Brooklyn should be able to get help in Arabic.

“There might be racial undertones,” she admitted, but she doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions.

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Long Lines and Missing Booths: Polling Center Challenges in Jersey City

Rebecca Sanchez~

Lines of waiting voters snaked through P.S. 3, the Frank R. Conwell School in  Jersey City on Tuesday,  one of the  few polling centers in Jersey City that was not relocated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Volunteers and City officials scrambled  to get people through  with just four voting booths “two less than they were supposed to have” and helped  Spanish speaking citizens to understand their ballots. Hudson County’s population is 42% Hispanic, consisting mostly of Cubans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexicans.

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Voting in Staten Island

Multilingual voting signs lined the walls and fence outside the P.S. 57 Hubert H. Humphrey school in Clifton, Staten Island to guide the voters to the ballot inside the school. The area around the school, sometimes referred to as “Little Liberia,” is a mix of several different ethnic communities but it mostly consists of people from Western Africa.

Standing outside the mandatory 100 feet radius designated a “No Electioneering” zone,  Chrisida Howard  distributed pamphlets in support of Democratic candidates and explained to passers-by   how to properly fill in the ballot, regardless of who they were voting for. “Voting,” she said, “is everyone’s right.”

Shaukat Hamdani was there to capture her story.

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[VIDEO] Understanding the Electoral College

Ever wondered what all the numbers in the US Electoral system meant? 270? 538? Why swing states matter? The New York Torch explains it.

Created by Christina Thorne
Voice: Stephen Jiwanmall

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[VIDEO] Dominican Book Vendor Serves as Political Hub

Members of New York City’s Dominican community discuss politics on Dyckman Street in Manhattan.

Reported by Mea Ashley
Produced by Nia Phillips

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