Filipino American leaders debunk misconception that votes don’t count

JUST one week heading to the November 4 midterm elections, a new CNN/ORC international poll revealed that  70 percent of Americans are angry with the country’s direction,  and 53 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance.
Despite this, however, it seems many Americans, including kababayans eligible to vote, do not feel compelled to cast their vote during midterm elections when the presidency is not at stake.
New York Correspondent Don Tagala pointed this out in his Balitang America report:  In the 2008 Presidential election, 57.1 percent of eligible voters in the US cast their ballots that brought President Barack Obama into office as the first African-American US President. But in the 2010, voter turnout dropped to 36.9 percent in the midterm elections that gave the house back to the Republicans. It went up again in the 2012 Presidential Elections — 53.7 percent of Americans showed up at the polls to re-elect Obama.
Many kababayans have the misconception that their votes do not count in the midterm elections, something that FilAm community leaders would want to debunk.
Whatever the political affiliations Filipinos in America may have, or even if they are not associated with any political party, FilAm leaders stress that midterm elections determine the balance of power in government.The coming November 4 polls will decide what programs will stay, be enacted into law, or which ones may be repealed.
FilAm community leader Rudy Asercion, who is a registered Republican, says the midterm polls matter.
He told Balitang America that Republicans expect to gain a few seats both in the House and the Senate – and that could mean a shift in the congressional balance of power in favor of the Grand Old Party (GOP).
“Mr. Obama’s unpopularity is becoming very severe right now and it’s growing. A clear example of that: in the six states which is crucial for the senate, the battle ground states. None of the candidates in the six states, none of them are asking him to go on the campaign trail with them because of his unpopularity,” Asercion said.
Asercion asserts that Republican candidates are more likely to win this election simply because of President Obama’s poor performance in his two terms of office alone.
On the other hand, Democratic supporter Loida Nicolas Lewis warns that a Republican majority-led House and Senate could mean the end of immigration reform, repeal of healthcare reform or Obamacare, and more money for Pentagon for wars.
“It is so important to maintain the majority of Democrats in the Senate because otherwise, everything that has been good for us Filipino-Americans could or would be in danger of being washed away,” Lewis told Tagala on Balitang America.
Defending the track record of Pres. Obama, Lewis reminds kababayans: “He fixed our economy. When he came in, hundreds of thousands of people were losing jobs every month, we reached almost 10 percent unemployment rate. Now it’s the lowest, ten years ago, 5.9 unemployed…President Obama is going to be judged as one of the best presidents of the United States.”
Lewis said, “It is so important for us Filipino Americans to really come out and vote, vote for those who are in favor of the things that are good for us.”
In Balitang America’s 2014 Midterm Election Primer, Correspondent Rommel Conclara reports that those who made the Oct. 20 voter registration deadline do not need to wait until Nov. 4 to cast your ballot.
Conclara said 32 of the 36 states that allow early in-person voting for the midterm elections have begun taking ballots.
If you already received your election materials in the mail, you should have already mailed them out to make sure they are received by Nov. 4 if mailed in. Officials recommend bringing it to a designated drop-off station to ensure your vote is counted.
Your county registrar of voters office can also re-issue your voter information pamphlet and sample ballot if you still don’t have one.
Conclara also pointed out that to raise voter participation within immigrant communities, election materials are available in multiple languages. This includes Filipino in some regions. San Diego County in California and Clark County in Nevada are among the areas with Filipino materials.
Those who cannot send mail-in ballots in a timely manner should just go to their assigned polls come November 4 to cast their vote.
Balitang America Senior Correspondent Henni Espinosa said in her report that what will be at stake on November 4 are all the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate.
Espinosa pointed out that current forecasts show that Democrats are struggling to save the Senate majority, while trying to prevent more losses in the House, which the GOP already controls by a 234 to 201 margin. In the Senate, the Democrats control the leadership by a 55 to 45 margin.
The group, Filipino Advocates for Justice, which is part of the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote Campaign, said in Espinosa’s report that Filipinos are a force to reckon with in the midterm elections.
The group said that in California, more than 417,000 Filipinos are registered to vote, comprising two percent of the state’s registered voters.
“California is still where almost half of the Filipino population, and that’s without even counting the undocumented reside,” said Lillian Galedo, of Filipino Advocates For Justice. “So there’s a long history of Filipinos being active politically in California, which continues to this day.”
Galedo said the Filipino Party affiliation in California is 40 percent Democrats, 26 percent Republicans, 31 percent non-partisan or decline to state, and three percent other.
“Here in California, we’re seeing a new trend,” Galedo told Balitang America. “There’s almost as many people who are declining to state. They’re neither declaring themselves Republican or Democrats. They’re wanting to sort of keep their options open and not declaring allegiance to the party system and beginning to look at what people have to say.”
Kababayan Christina Halog has been a US citizen since 1973 and has never missed on exercising her solemn duty to vote in any US election since then. More than casting her vote, she encourages other kababayans to vote through phone banking.
“It’s important so I can have a voice and to be able to contribute…To give back,” she said on Balitang America.
Another FilAm, Mona Dating, has practiced her right to vote since she became a US citizen in 1982. According to Dating, kababayans should remember that being too busy is not an excuse to not cast your ballot.
“Sa Filipino community, tayo ang largest,one of the largest minorities in the U.S.,” Dating said on Balitang America. “We need to exercise our right to vote.”
Angry and frustrated about how the government is running the country? Then VOTE ON NOVEMBER 4. Every vote matters.

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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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