With election dates and candidates’ districts still up in the air, a Korean institution in Flushing announced last Thursday the start of a voter registration effort in the area.
The MinKwon Center for Community Action launched its campaign to make sure its targeted group is represented at the ballot box, whenever that may be.
James Hong, civic participation coordinator for MinKwon, noted that the redistricting process for state and congressional districts has not been completed and the dates for the primary and general elections not finalized. “This leads to uncertainty and confusion among voters, particularly recent immigrants and limited English-proficient persons,” he said.
Under a proposed redistricting plan, two state Senate districts, now held by Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside), would merge into one to create an Asian-majority district in Flushing.
MinKwon hopes to register 5,000 new immigrant voters, provide extensive voter education, including a bilingual Korean-English voter guide, and offer a candidates forum in the summer. In addition, there will be a major voter mobilization drive to contact 1,000 households in person and through phone banks to encourage people to vote.
Hong points to the group’s success rate. Their records show that among Korean-American voters in the Flushing-Bayside area who had been contacted by MinKwon staff during the 2010 general elections, voter turnout was 86 percent higher than among similar voters in the same area who hadn’t been contacted, and 69 percent higher than the average of New York City.
The new outreach will take place in Flushing and will be undertaken by staff, volunteers and interns.
Hong indicated that Flushing could be an Asian majority in its Assembly and state Senate districts, based on the 2010 U.S. Census statistics, adding that it is important “to strengthen our political voice” and that the group’s past efforts “have nearly doubled the participation rate of Korean voters.”
With the federal and primary dates possibly being moved from September to June, Hong said, it is “more important than ever to make sure that our community is fully engaged in these critical elections.”
The MinKwon Center was established in 1984 as the Young Korean American Service and Education Center to meet the needs of the community through immigrant rights and political empowerment. It is located at 136-19 41 Ave., in Flushing.