Fil-Ams, Asian Americans urged to vote in LA elections on March 5


LOS ANGELES – With at least two Filipino-Americans running for LA City Council seats, kababayans are highly encouraged to come out and vote in the coming LA City Primary Nominating Elections on Tuesday, March 5.

The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), together with the LA City Clerk Election Division, the Korean Resource Center, the California Participation Project, held a press conference on Thursday in downtown LA to push for a greater degree of election involvement in the Asian American community of Los Angeles.

With the elections involving key city-wide positions like City Mayor, City Controller, and City Attorney, as well as two important ballot measures – Stewart Kwoh, executive director and president for APALC, emphasized the importance of the March 5 polls despite the usually observed low turnout of voters.

“I think in 2009, the Mayoral election just had an 18 percent turnout,” Kwoh pointed out.

According to Kwoh, a recent study revealed that among key issues important to Asian American voters include education, the city budget, and job development.

“And that’s where the Mayoral candidates, propositions, as well as the city council races are really going to make a difference,” Kwoh added.

Marianne Felix, bilingual language specialist of the Election Division, explained that the City Clerk’s Office, headed by June Lagmay, and the Election Division is hard at work in making preparations for the coming polls, to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

With the LA City Votes campaign in full swing, Felix pointed out that the Election Division have been strongly advocating for greater voter turnout on March 5. The Election Division has also reached out to Angelenos via the Internet. More resources can be accessed through the Election Division’s website at

Official opening of the polls will be at Carecen on 2845 West 7th Street, Los Angeles, at 6:30am on March 5.

Dayne Lee, civic participation coordinator of the Korean Resource Center (KRC), said that the KRC has also been actively engaging their community in civic activity.

According to Lee, one of the barriers that deter Korean Americans from voting in the local elections is their lack of awareness on the local election process itself, like the issues involved, the candidates, and other topics.

Unlike the national elections in November, where record numbers of Asian Americans turned out to vote, the March 5 polls aren’t getting as much involvement from potential voters.

“A common expression we hear in the Korean American community is ‘What do people like us understand about local politics? Let’s just let the Americans take care of it.’” Lee said.

The civic participation coordinator pointed out that Korea-Americans, Asian-Americans, and most Pacific Islander groups lag behind the general population in voter turnout.

“I think the first step is to connect our community to the issues that matter,” Lee explained, “More importantly, we need to promote a sense of normalcy and empowerment so that voting is something that’s part of our culture.”

As part of the KRC’s advocacy, they too are also pushing for greater voter registration and turnout on Election Day. According to Lee, the KRC acknowledges that language barriers will always be present and will prove to be a deterrent for many Limited English Proficiency (LEP) voters.

Because of this, the KRC is also pushing for LEP voters to opt to vote by mail to overcome these language difficulties. Deadline for vote-by-mail ballots is at 8pm on March 5.

The City Clerk’s Office and the Election Division made it clear in a previous press conference that the vote-by-mail ballots must be physically received by the poll workers by that time.

Post-dated ballots that come in late will not be honored. Voters can submit their filled out vote-by-mail ballots at any voting precincts, or at the Election Division office itself.

Lawrence Joe, executive director for the California Participation Project, said that this a very important election for Los Angeles because for the first time since term limits went into effect, Angelenos will be electing a new Mayor, a new Controller, possibly a new City Attorney, and at least six new City Councilors.

“It’s really important because there’s going to be a lot of turnover, there’s going to be a lot of change within our city government,” Joe pointed out, “And it’s important that people come out to vote so that they can have a voice in terms of who represents them.”

Joe said that with the participation of five Asian Americans in this year’s local elections, at least two Asian American representatives can be elected to the city council for the first time since Chinese-American city councilor Mike Woo held office from 1985 to 1993.

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