Tag: Election day

Election Day Coverage: Feet In 2 Worlds Brought You The Immigrant Vote


Election Day, November 4, 2008. (Photo: FlickrCC/Sergiocapitano)

On Election Day, the Feet In 2 Worlds team spread out to polling places in immigrant and ethnic neighborhoods across the U.S. to report on how foreign-born voters experienced this historic day.

Our contributors covered voting in battleground states Florida and New Hampshire, as well as Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York:

Detroiters Literally Dancing In The Streets For America’s First Black President

DETROIT – Martina Guzman, FI2W reporter

Detroiters cheered in bars, honked their horns and literally danced in the streets when Barack Obama became the president-elect.

Detroit is considered a black city: the population is more than eighty percent African American. It has had a black mayor for decades, black City Council members and elected officials. But as a veteran of multiple presidential and local campaigns, I have never seen an outpouring of joy over an election like I saw last night — there’s no precedent to compare it to.

This was not the kind of celebration that takes place after a major sports victory. And it was nothing like the usual party after winning an electoral race. This time, people in bars sobbed openly as Obama spoke to the nation. At the Park Bar, one of Detroit’s newest hangouts, no one was allowed to talk while Obama gave his speech — and no one did. People sat in silence, beaming, listening to every word he said.

“Oh my God, what a great country we live in,” said 42-year-old Louis Aguilar after Obama’s victory speech. Aguilar was one of the thousands of people who came out last night to watch the results roll in.

As the states turned blue, a trickle of cars honking their horns turned quickly into a midnight parade.



Morning in Harlem: Voices of Immigrant and First-Time Voters in New York

Through Election Day, Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed voters from very different origins. She talked to a Polish first-time voter in Harlem, and then she interviewed two Bangladeshi men and an Argentinean woman in Jackson Heights, Queens. She even had time to make an appearance on PRI’s nationally syndicated show The World.

In the morning, Anburajan talked to Keith Shaka Daway, an immigrant voter from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Daway saw an eventual Obama victory as “a vindication” of his ancestors and the “freedom fighters” of the past. You can read more about him here and you can listen to him speaking on this audio clip:


Another interviewee was Carl Duck, an African American man in his fifties who voted today for the first time in his life. “It’s time to make a change,” he told Anburajan. You can listen to him on this clip:


Tamar Owens and her daughter Oprie, 7, were at the same polling place. “Its exciting to vote for a person that’s real. That’s real by heart by soul,” the mother said of Barack Obama. The kid, as you can hear on this audio interview, was also very enthusiastic:


Immigrant Voters in New Hampshire: Eduardo de Oliveira on New York Public Radio

Eduardo A. de Oliveira, a Brazilian-born reporter for New England Ethnic News and a Feet in 2 Worlds contributor, appeared this morning on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio, to describe the scene in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

You can listen to that segment of the show here.

Election Fever in Greenpoint: Polish Immigrants Form Long Lines to Vote

GREENPOINT, NY – Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter

A long line of voters crowded around P.S. 34 on Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, a predominantly Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The line was at times so long –in the morning at any given moment there were around 300 voters– that some people just gave up, saying they would have to come back later. Others were hoping that their employers would understand and would not punish them for coming late to work.

“I’ve never seen anything like that here,” said Krystyna Holowacz, a Greenpoint activist, while waiting for her turn to vote. “Usually it takes five to ten minutes to cast a vote in Greenpoint. Today it’s more than one hour.”

Some voters were very excited to take part in this historic election, others looked very serious and described their participation as a duty.

Older Polish immigrants stood in line among numerous young Americans who have recently moved to this increasingly trendy neighborhood. And while election fever has strongly held the country in its grip for a long time, among Polish residents of Greenpoint this was a new phenomenon.

In the past, Polish immigrants, while deeply involved in their home country’s politics, were barely interested in the American electoral process. This year, however, despite differences in their opinions on who should be the next president, Poles were showing up at polling sites in much larger numbers than in previous years, with a new feeling of empowerment.

FI2W reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed Polish voter Darius Gieczeweski in Manhattan. He voted for the first time in a U.S. presidential election this morning.



Two Bangladeshis and An Argentinean Walk Into A Polling Place …

JACKSON HEIGHTS, NY – Aswini Anburajan, FI2W reporter

Only in New York City, and especially only in Queens, would this reporter find herself surrounded by three loqacious voters of such different origins — two Bangladeshi men and one Argentinean woman — all eager to break down the reasons why they were voting for Barack Obama.

Mohammed Rahamatullah and Khandkar Haque are good friends and six-year residents of Jackson Heights. They list healthcare and changing world opinion about the U.S. as their top reasons to vote. Haque says that this is his first presidential election. He’s been a U.S. citizen for less than a year.

Rahamatullah joked that the world cares so much about this election that his brother called him from Bangladesh last night to remind him to go to the polls.

Sandra Hidalgo, originally from Argentina, is a 35-year resident of Jackson Heights. She calls McCain “ugly,” says she’s sick of the Republican Party and declares that Obama is the best choice for Latinos. She raised the issue of immigration and questioned –like a Polish voter in Harlem did earlier today– why some people who had been in the country for years couldn’t apply for legal residency.

All three voters talked with passion about the Democratic presidential candidate, declaring adamantly that voting for a Republican would just continue the current administration’s policies.

They also spoke with first hand knowledge of the recent economic crisis, saying that friends’ businesses had suffered tremendously.

Stores have closed in Jackson Heights and the ethnic restaurants that made the area famous in New York have seen their customer-flow dwindle to a trickle. Undocumented immigrants are the first to be hit, said Hidalgo, and she argued that problems in the economy ripple upward.

Polls are open for a few more hours in New York, and the lines are long and getting longer. Though the election hasn’t come to an end, and the votes haven’t been counted, at least in this part of New York people already seem to be celebrating.

"One Who Can Really Appreciate Voting": A Black Voter Remembers the Old South

DETROIT – Martina Guzman, FI2W reporter

John McDowell sat in his lawn chair at the Kemeny voting center in Detroit. He passed out Obama literature and smiled at the young people who came to vote.

“I’m one of the ones who can really appreciate voting,” McDowell said.

McDowell is originally from Louisiana but moved to Detroit in the 1960’s. He said he voted for the first time in 1955, but that was a humiliating experience.

“I was asked what party I belonged to and I told them Democrat,” he said. “They asked me to spell Democrat… I got one letter wrong, so they refused to register me.”

McDowell went home and looked up the word in the dictionary, swearing to never get it wrong again. He went back to the polling place, spelled the word correctly and registered to vote.

“I was lucky,” he said. “Some black people were asked to recite the Constitution.”

As McDowell told the story, 18-year-old Eric Ford stood by and listened. Ford was voting for the first time and said he was excited to make a stand and vote for change. He said that at his age he’s already worried about his future. “I look out here now and it’s scary,” he said.

Ford politely shook McDowell’s hand, then went inside to vote.


In Obama’s Hometown: Latino Voters Energized

CHICAGO – Pilar Marrero, La Opinión columnist and FI2W contributor

After early morning lines in most locations, where people voted before heading out to work, a steady stream of voters showed up at polling stations across this city where Barack Obama lives, and where he voted early morning before heading to a final campaign event in Indiana.

In Latino and African American neighborhoods, the sense of history, or just the need for change seemed to be on the minds of many.

Julia Morales, a precinct worker at the Rudy Lozano Library in the Latino neighborhood of Pilsen, said that about fifty people were lined up by 6 AM. She said it has been years since she has seen so much interest in an election. “More than ever,” she said.

Azalea Paramo, 19, voted at a polling place inside Taquería Los Comales, near the entrance to La Villita, the popular name for this neighborhood. She voted for Obama.

“I like what he stands for. I expect him to do everything he said. I am in college, so I am interested in the help he can give us to make higher education more affordable and available,” said Paramo, who is taking courses in massage therapy.

In the Division neighborhood, where Puerto Rican flags adorn windows and businesses, Angel Green voted at the St. Mark Catholic Church. His choice: Obama.


“Because I am poor,” said Green. “If I was rich I would vote for McCain. It makes no sense for the poor to vote for McCain.”

Fort Lauderdale: A Haitian American Feels Guilty for Not Being Able to Vote Obama

Wenda Desauguste

Wenda Desauguste outside a polling site in South Florida.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Macollvie Jean-Francois, Sun Sentinel reporter.

Something had to be done with those boys. As their parents voted inside a local church, the boys, about seven of them, ran around the parking lot and in an adjacent lot — impatient.

Wenda Desauguste, 25 and a football coach, stepped up. Within minutes, the boys were on the ground doing push-ups, spinning wheels and other exercises.

Desauguste said she and four other friends came to the church, at North Andrews Avenue and Northeast 13th Street, to vote — some of them for the first time.

“Who are we supporting, guys?” she asked the boys.

“Obama, Obama,” they said, puffing, while they continued with their exercises.

By then, the boys were sweating. The sun had burst through by mid-afternoon, after a temperate morning, and it now beat down on the few voters waiting outside the polling location.

Nelson Garache, 32, and Joseph Beautelus, 48, were also waiting there.


More Reports of New York Election Law Violations Against Immigrants

NEW YORK – Aswini Anburajan, FI2W reporter

Throughout New York City there have been reports that voters have been asked to show identification, in violation of New York election law.

Laura Matthews, a second year law student at the City University of New York, said that voters in Jackson Heights were asked to show ID and were told it was because of the difficulty of understanding their names.

Matthews said the other main problem in immigrant neighborhoods was the lack of interpreters, and that voters for whom English is a second language felt pressured at the polls to try and get through the materials quickly.

Unlike in Harlem, however, poll watchers are thronging the election sites checking to see that voters’ rights weren’t violated.

Students like Laura are volunteering through the Asian American Legal Defense Fund.