Where were you on Election Day?

I hope that you were voting and making your voice heard. Around the country, volunteers from SAALT and other organizations from the Asian American community were at poll sites, protecting the vote and learning more about the voting choices and barriers faced by Asians. It was my first time being an election monitor and I was assigned to a poll site in Silver Spring, MD (which is in the suburbs of Washington, DC). It was an amazing experience on a number of levels. First and foremost, it was very powerful to see so many people after they had exercised their right to vote. It was the culmination of a long, and sometimes emotional, election cycle and you could feel the excitement in the air.

I saw a lot of people with smiles on their faces. Another notable trend was families coming in to vote together in which the children were voting for the first time. As they filled out surveys, I could see the pride in the parents’ eyes. I moved to the United States when I was twelve years old. My family had previously lived in Saudi Arabia, which was an interesting experience all around, but there was a palpable difference when we came to America. This was a place where people settled, not just a place to pass through. It was not immediate, but America became home. And when I became a citizen in 2006, I was old enough to have really chosen become an “American”. I knew when I said that oath in the courthouse in Chicago that, in a fundamental way, my place in the world had shifted.

Even though I had the opportunity to vote in the 2006 midterm elections, I was beside myself with excitement about voting in my first presidential elections: to be making this huge, meaningful choice along with my fellow Americans (a decision that I knew from personal experience reverberated well beyond the US) was something I had looked forward to for a very long time. In my family there are American citizens, permanent residents, H1-B and student visa-holders and Bangladeshi citizens. I voted absentee in the District of Columbia, so it wasn’t the whole Election Day experience, but when I stood in my little voting booth, I felt my whole family there with me and I did my best to make sure my vote reflected that.

I don’t know if it is the same for other immigrants and children of immigrants, but the very act of voting felt like some small but vital portion of my parents’ dreams and my dreams becoming a reality. Being an election monitor and seeing people of all races and ethnicities, of different ages and socioeconomic statuses seemed a quiet and powerful affirmation of American democracy at work. On a very practical level, being there to help document any problems or issues with voting helped me contribute to a better understanding of Asian Americans as a voting population. This information not only helps us understand our community better, it informs policymakers and politicians about the issues that matter to us. I know that I will remember November 4th, 2008 for the rest of my life and I hope that the work that I and all the other election monitors can make a similar impact on our community’s future.

We’re going to put up some more posts about people’s experiences with election monitoring so keep a look out for them.

What Do I Need to Bring to the Polls? and Document the Vote!

It’s almost here! Election Day! After a rather long primary season, this election is coming to close in the most exciting way possible. Voter turnout is expected to be quite impressive and if early voting is any indication Americans around the country are excited (and commmitted, with early voting locations in some states having wait times in excess of SIX hours) about having their say this election. So for everyone getting ready to vote on Election Day, make sure that the ID requirements in your state don’t keep you from casting a ballot. Lookup your state’s ID requirement on www.866ourvote.org.

Also, while you’re waiting online, document the vote, take pictures or video of how voting looks in your community. If you have any interesting stories to share about first time voters or the excitement in your family or circle of friends about voting, we want to hear about it. Are you voting, getting out the vote, or monitoring at the polls on Election Day? Bring a camera or videocamera with you to document pictures and stories of South Asian voters. Send pictures, video, written reflections, quotes and more to saalt@saalt.org by Wednesday, November 5th at 5PM!

Here’s an interesting PSA I found that really underscores how meaningful the vote is, it may take a couple of hours (so I suggest bringing a book… and maybe a folding chair) but going out and voting remains significant long after Election Day.

Make sure your vote counts on November 4th!

This is a really great video that outlines how important it is to make sure that your vote counts on Election Day. There may not be enough voting machines, your name might not be in the voter rolls, you may get asked for ID you don’t have to vote. So its very important that you know what your rights are, it can be the difference between having your say on Election Day or not.



Moreover, by knowing what voters have a right to expect, you can make sure that those around you, voting at your polling place, voters from your community and more! Voters can confront a number of problems at the polls, from poll workers who are not knowledgeable about the rules to difficulties with language and English ballots to unfair treatment based on race or ethnicity. Remember:

-Check your state’s voter ID laws to make sure that you have the proper identification to vote
-If you or anyone you know needs help interpreting the ballot, it is your legal right to bring an interpreter into the booth with you
-If your name is missing from the rolls, you have a right to vote using a provisional ballot
     Want to learn more about your rights on Election Day, check out this SAALT resource

If you encounter or witness any barriers to the right to vote, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

 

 

What Do I Need to Bring to the Polls? and Document the Vote!

It’s almost here! Election Day! After a rather long primary season, this election is coming to close in the most exciting way possible. Voter turnout is expected to be quite impressive and if early voting is any indication Americans around the country are excited (and commmitted, with early voting locations in some states having wait times in excess of SIX hours) about having their say this election. So for everyone getting ready to vote on Election Day, make sure that the ID requirements in your state don’t keep you from casting a ballot. Lookup your state’s ID requirement on www.866ourvote.org.

Also, while you’re waiting online, document the vote, take pictures or video of how voting looks in your community. If you have any interesting stories to share about first time voters or the excitement in your family or circle of friends about voting, we want to hear about it. Are you voting, getting out the vote, or monitoring at the polls on Election Day? Bring a camera or videocamera with you to document pictures and stories of South Asian voters. Send pictures, video, written reflections, quotes and more to saalt@saalt.org by Wednesday, November 5th at 5PM!

Here’s an interesting PSA I found that really underscores how meaningful the vote is, it may take a couple of hours (so I suggest bringing a book… and maybe a folding chair) but going out and voting remains significant long after Election Day.

http://www.youtube.com/v/o4kg514DcTA&hl=en&fs=1