Asian Community Leaders Endorse Non-Partisan Elections
From The World Journal
October 17, 2003

Margaret Chin, Deputy Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality, and community leaders called on Chinese voters yesterday to support non-partisan elections proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which they said will enhance participation by Asian communities and open up the system to non-partisan voters.

Asian Americans account for a considerable part of the non-partisan population in New York, but cannot participate in primaries because they are neither Republicans nor Democrats and therefore lose an opportunity for democracy, Chin said. Because most of the partisan population is Democrat, those who win Democratic primaries will almost certainly win general elections, she said. Non-Democratic Asian Americans have no opportunity to elect their own representatives, which is unfair, she added.

Chin said in Chinatown’s State Assembly constituencies that there are nearly 40,000 registered Democrats, more than 6,000 Republicans and more than 12,000 non-partisan voters, and that in Constituency 22 in Flushing, there are nearly 24,000 Democrats, 6,200 Republicans and more than 7,600 non-partisans. None of the non-partisan voters are eligible to participate in primaries but will be able to if non-partisan elections were adopted, she said.

Community leader Zheng Shi said opening up primaries would enhance turnout and encourage participation by those uninterested in partisan politics.

Immigrants from Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos have deep-rooted terror towards political parties due to historical reasons, said Weiliang Zhang, President of Indochina Sino-American Community Center. He said asking them to join parties will trigger many unpleasant memories of theirs, and that non-partisan elections are the best way to encourage their participation.

Chin said concerns that voter turnout will drop without partisan promotion are unnecessary, because parties will still try to win voters as candidates can list party affiliation during primaries if they choose to.

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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai

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