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Primary Election Heated In Flushing, Cold In Chinatown And Brooklyn
From World Journal
September 11, 2002

Voting rates in Chinatown and Brooklyn for the primary elections on September 10 were low, while competition escalated in Flushing. Although there were enough interpreters and the voting machines ran smoothly, some of the biggest polling places in Chinatown received less than 200 votes. Many Chinese voters lost enthusiasm for the election when they saw unfamiliar names on the ballots.

Many workers at polling centers said the voting rate was much lower than before. One of the biggest, formerly located at Yung Wing Elementary School but now relocated to Confucius Plaza Building, received only 170 votes an hour before closing. For the majority of the day, one could only see workers wandering around instead of voters. A similar outcome also occurred at Sun Yat-sen Middle School, another popular polling site.

The day was also uneventful for some of the most heavily Chinese-populated areas in Brooklyn, as the major candidates for both the Democratic and Republican Parties were running unopposed. However, in the Independence Party primary election for the State Senate in District 22 in Flushing, Queens, competition was fierce as Republican Martin Golden takes on Democrat Vincent Gentile, who is nominated by the Independence Party. Many Chinese volunteers mobilized to support Golden, who has a close relationship with the Chinese community.

Led by community leaders Paul Lee, Lan Pei-wen and Eng Shih-ying, the Chinese volunteers from Golden’s camp went out to lobby support from voters in Chinese in early morning. However, many first-time voters did not know that Golden’s name is not on the ballot since he is a challenger and that they have to add his name to the ballot. It did not help when many workers at polling sites were not familiar with the procedure. Many voters had to be accompanied by Chinese-speaking volunteers to the ballot booth when they cast their votes.

The Board of Elections listed many newly-registered Chinese Independence Party members as Conservative Party members, so paper ballots were used to clear the confusion. This added more difficulties to the elections.

Golden expressed gratitude to his Chinese supporters and said he was moved by the efforts of his Chinese volunteers. He vowed to provide more service to the Chinese community.

Meanwhile, two major Chinese candidates were running for the Democratic Party nomination in the State Assembly race. Their volunteers had an early start in the hopes of a last-minute push to win the primary, adding some excitement to the elections.

Barry Grodenchik, backed by the Queens County Democratic Party, stood side by side with former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and City Councilman John Liu to greet voters near a polling place near Kissena Senior Center. He complained about the relocation of many polling centers this year, saying that candidates might lose votes because voters are having trouble finding the sites.

Jimmy Meng, a strong candidate in the race, sent out volunteers near polling centers to distribute flyers reminding people to vote. He also provided car service to the polling centers for senior citizens who have trouble traveling and do not speak English. Reservations were required in advance.

According to regulations by the Board of Elections, candidates cannot place any campaign material too close to polling sites. All campaign activities are also limited to the outskirts of the areas of polling sites.

Among the four candidates for the Democratic primary for the State Assembly in District 22, John Albert has the lowest campaign budget. Albert was rarely seen in campaign activities, contrasting the much more elaborate campaigns by other candidates staged outside the major polling places.

Translated From Chinese By Larry Tung

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