League of Chinese-American Voters -
A Catalyst Group Encourages Chinese
Americans to Participate in Politics
wait for more Chinese Americans to become politically active and run for office, a group of Chinese- Americans, calling themselves the League of Chinese American Voters, has decided to participate in a different way. Two days before Election Day 2000, they stood outside North Quincy High with bilingual signs encouraging fellow Chinese Americans to vote. "I want to contribute what I can by involving myself in the political process and encouraging others in the community to fulfill their civic duties," said Juliana Yu, a League member and a software engineer. "Standing
out on the sidewalk for two hours with
a sign is not difficult, even when it rains, but this simple act can have a real impact on elections," she said.
which was formed last year, also has taken its voter-turnout message to other venues as well, including two August Moon festivals, in Boston and Quincy. With assistance from Quincy City Clerk Joe Shea, and Gerry Mallet from the Secretary of State's Office, the League developed bilingual fact sheets and set up information booths at the festivals to register voters. "It was a rewarding experience," said Eddie
Mei, a QA engineer. "We received a strong
response from the community, and they asked a lot of direct questions, although clearly language and cultural barriers make understanding the political system difficult for them."
to Quincy City Clerk Joe Shea, the 1980 census showed about 750 Asians living in Quincy. By 1990, the number had grown to 5,500, and the most recent census counted 13,546. Meanwhile, registered Asian-American voters had increased from 1,100 in 1998 to 1,410 in the year 2000. "During the 1998 election, about 600 Asians cast ballots," said Shea who, according the Patriot Ledger, calculates those numbers by counting Asian surnames on lists of people who requested ballots. "In last year's presidential election, there were about 1,072," he added.
turnout figures indicate that many registered Asian voters in Quincy did vote in the last election," said Betty Yau, a marketing consultant in Quincy. "We also know that many more are eligible but have not registered." Setting up informational pickets may be a first step
in helping to raise political awareness
and voter turnout in the Chinese American community. It is an effective technique, and fun too. Despite the bad weather, no one complained, in fact, they enjoyed the informational picketing experience, and most said they would do it again.
which is made up of all volunteers, plans to extend its "political activity" to Cambridge and other cities and towns in the Boston area. Members will be active in the upcoming city elections, carrying signs and running voter-registration booths. Aside from
meeting potential voters at the upcoming
August Moon festivals, members are preparing a bilingual website, where a candidates list and voter fact sheets in Chinese and English will be posted and updated. "The Internet is an economical and interactive medium," said Allen Yau, a material controller. "Many of our members are IT professionals, and the website will be an effective way to get the word out and make an impact on city elections," he added.
of Chinese-American Voters welcomes all new members. If you are interested, call 617-770-3310.