Tag Archives: elections

East in the West- Asians Count in the US Elections

Here’s yet another post on the recent US elections.  It may seem a long time has already passed since November 6, 2012, but I wanted to write about the notable increase in AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) presence in US government after this election.

For me, what was more important was not that Barack Obama has been elected to a second term, but that the US Congress will be more diverse than ever, and more female than ever (1 in 5 women in the Senate will be female, for example!).  Though there is still a long way to go for minorities and women, I am excited about the latest changes in government in the US.

The newest AAPI additions include:

Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) made history as the first Asian immigrant, first Buddhist, and first Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She will also be the first woman senator to represent the state of Hawaii.

She joins fellow Hawaiian, Daniel Inouye.

And some other “firsts in the House of Representatives:

Grace Meng, a member of the New York State Assembly, will be the first Asian American member of Congress elected to represent the state of New York.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to vote for her, and I have to admit, that while some of her social views are a bit left for me, I believed her presence as an Asian American woman would speak loud and was important enough for me to vote for her.

Tammy Duckworth from Illinois is the first Thai American woman and woman veteran injured in combat to serve in Congress. She lost her legs in Iraq when her helicopter was shot down, and has overseen veterans’ affairs at the state and federal levels.

Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii is the first Hindu American and first Pacific Islander woman to serve in Congress. Born in American Samoa, she is company commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, a former Honolulu City Council member, and the youngest person to serve as a state representative in Hawaii.

Mark Takano, a member of the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees, is the first openly gay candidate of color to win a congressional seat. Takano, whose parents were interned during World War II, ran for Congress in 1992 and lost by only 519 votes.

A fifth House candidate, Dr. Ami Bera from Elk Grove in Sacramento County, is currently holding the lead in a close race that has yet to be decided. As of November 13th, these ballots are still being counted!  On election night, Bera led by just 184 votes, and as of the last count I could find, is up 3,824 votes.  There are still about 40,000 ballots to count apparently!  Go Dr. Bera!

These new Congresspersons join: Bobby Scott (an African American whose grandfather was Filipino), Mike Honda, Doris Matsui, Steve Austria (who is half Filipino), Judy Chu, and Colleen Hanabusa.

The Asian constituency continues to edge up in importance to, rising from 2% last go to 3% this year.  They were also big Obama supporters, with 73% of the Asian vote going to him this year.


Gay Pride in Hong Kong

In recent US election news, we learn that four states – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington – passed gay marriage by voter referendum. Yet, as I mentioned in previous posts about  W vs. HKSAR, Hong Kong still makes gay marriage illegal. Also, last Wednesday lawmakers rejected a motion on that called for a public consultation on new laws to protect the rights of sexual minorities.

But there’s certainly hope for change in Hong Kong too.  The people of Hong Kong are growing more vocal about the rights of LGBTs, where yesterday’s Gay Pride Parade attracted more than 4,000 – nearly double of the year before (and 4x as many as those who attended the first Pride Parade in HK in 2008)! The theme of this year’s parade was “Dare to Love” and there were calls to end work-place discrimination and for the legalization of gay marriage.

The parade, unsurprisingly, was led by Hong Kong’s first openly gay elected legislator, Raymond Chan.  He was supported by Legislative Councillor Gary Fan and ex-legislator Tanya Chan.  The first Hong Kong entertainer to come out, Anthony Wong, was also there.  And another HK celebrity, Denise Ho, came out that day to become the second HK entertainer to officially do so!

While these are positive signs for HK’s LGBT community, I am still worrisome about how the Bokhary-less CFA will rule on W v. HKSAR.

From US Elections to China’s Appointments

Congratulations to President Barack Obama on his reelection.  That was a tough campaign and based on the popular vote, it was a close election, reflecting significant popular distaste in the previous 4 years.

But as the US is seeing no change in the top (there were quite a few important new candidates elected in Congress), China is about to see lots of change (well, sort of) this month!

President Hu Jintao will give up his role as party chief to anointed successor Vice President Xi Jinping in a once in a decade change!  (The president can serve up to two 5-year terms, and it’s usual that the first term is renewed.)  Today is the start of a huge handover of power to newly appointed leaders.  The process will take place over a week-long meeting behind closed doors (no elections, of course) among over 2,000 delegates, who will select a central committee, which then chooses the country’s highest decision-making body, the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

It won’t be until about November 15 before we will know who China’s new leaders are going to be, though there have already been some strong indications over certain positions.  Security in Beijing has been considerably beefed up during this time, and watch over political dissidents have similarly been increased.  Though the people of China don’t have any say or choice in the entire matter, it’s apparent  the government is concerned that they may express their views.

So whether or not you’re happy about Obama’s reelection or not, think about what government might be when you have no say, and consider how important it is to vote when you can!

I Voted!

It’s a major election year in the US and for the first time I am not in the US during this important time.  I’ve always been big on voting.  I always vote for every seat, including judges, and every question.  Let’s just say I never skimp on voting!

So of course I made sure to figure out my absentee voting procedures.  It turns out that depending on which state you are registered, different procedures apply – so it’s important to get a hold of that information.

I started first with the Federal Voters Assistance Program – a government program run by the Secretary of Defense, which then referred me to the right site to get my NY voter registration sorted.

Initially I was worried it hadn’t gone through, but then after a few weeks I got e-mail confirmations that I was on my way to receiving my paper ballot.  For me in NY, I would have to submit a paper ballot (some states have e-mail absentee voting), and that I would have to have it in NY by election day – November 6 (some states let you postmark it by election day).

I received my ballot, with three envelopes – the one it came in, the one it will go in, and a second one it will then be mailed in.  I received an e-mail from my local ACS, which let those of us who did not yet have our ballots know what to do in that event and also advised that I could drop my paper ballot off at the US Consulate by October 29 noon to guarantee timely delivery. 

I needed some time to think over my choices for Senate and Congress, in particular, and then on October 29, I strolled over to the consulate on Garden Road and promptly dropped off my ballot.  It was all a rather congenial process and stress free.  The guard knew right away I was coming to vote when he saw me with the envelope in hand, and directed me to the US Citizen Services entrance.

Upon handing off the envelope, all that was left for me was to sit tight as the last weeks of campaigning wrapped up.  And here I am today, November 6, watching election coverage live, streaming from my computer.

Notably, this is a much watched international event, and there are locations around the city setting up election watch viewings, including the American Chamber of Commerce.  I also note that the NBC election coverage came on this morning instead of the regular putonghua entertainment news program at 8am.  It was a pleasant surprise, and I may have stayed back to watch if not for a conference call I had on for 9am.

Anyway – I’m watching the results come in live – during the middle of my morning, which is unusual, since I’m more accustomed to struggling to stay awake as the final votes are counted in the middle of the night!

It’s a pretty exciting race, and I am anxious for the results.  Luckily I will not be bleary eyed as I lay in wait for the results to be announced this time!