Counting Korean Voters in NYS

(From the left) Minhee Lee, coordinator at KACE, Dohyung Kim, chairman of KACE, Dongchan Kim, president of KACE, Sangho Lee, chairman of the Korean American Business Council of New York. (Photo via Korea Daily)

[Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE), which monitors voter registration in the Korean communities of New York and New Jersey and works to enhance civic participation in those communities and across the nation, recently released its 2017 New York Voter Data Analysis report. Korea Daily led its story with a report on the jump in registrations in one important New York City district, while The Korea Times highlighted the statewide decline in registration totals. Excerpts from the two articles follow.]

Soojin Choi wrote in Korea Daily:

Korean-American voter registrations in District 19 in northeast Queens (including the neighborhoods of Bayside, Little Neck and North Flushing) have doubled since the 2013 New York City Council election. The council seat for District 19 is being fiercely contested (incumbent Paul Vallone is being challenged by Paul Graziano in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary).

On Aug. 14, KACE released its 2017 New York Voter Data Analysis report. According to the report, the number of Korean-American voters in District 19 is 9,316. This is an increase of 4,441 voters from 4,875 in the 2013 election, while in 2009 the Korean-American voter count stood at 3,142 [these numbers were provided to Korea Daily but do not appear in the report summary released by KACE]. (…) Meanwhile, the number of Korean-American voters who registered as Democrats for the upcoming primary is 5,765.

In City Council District 20, in Flushing, where Alison Tan and Peter Koo are running, there was a slight rise of 433 voters from 5,113 in 2013, bringing the total to 5,546 this year. (…) The number of Korean-American voters registered as Democrats in District 20 is 3,633.

(…) Being popular among Korean-American voters can be the decisive factor during primaries. In the 2013 primary election, Paul Vallone, the incumbent of District 19, received only 144 more votes (for a vote total of 2,723) over challenger Austin Shafran.

“Voter turnout in the primary election is lower than in the general election. Korean-American voters can change the result by voting in the primary election,” said Dongchan Kim, president of KACE. He encouraged the community to attend the debate.

Jinwoo Cho of The Korea Times focused on the statewide numbers released by KACE:

Heading into the Sept. 12 primary election for seats on the New York City Council, the number of Korean-American voters decreased for the first time since five years ago.

According to the “2017 New York Voter Data Analysis,” 44,290 Korean American voters were registered in New York state as of April 2017. This number represents 54.2 percent of the Korean-American population eligible to vote in the state, a decline of 3.8 percent (1,744 voters) from the year before.

The number of Korean-American registered voters in New York state grew sharply from 38,818 in 2012 to 43,681 in 2014, and grew, albeit less dramatically, in 2015 and 2016 (from 43,753 to 46,034).

Another decline occurred in Queens County, home to the largest Korean-American population in New York. A total of 19,322 Korean-Americans voters were counted, a decline of 337, or 1.7 percent from last year.

From 2016 to 2017 the number of registered voters also declined in Nassau County (going from 5,547 to 5,200), Manhattan (5,994 to 5,871), Brooklyn (3,757 to 3,551) and Westchester (2,351 to 2,130).

Dongchan Kim, the president of KACE, said, “This decrease occurred because voters did not update their addresses after moving.”  (…) He added that KACE learned that 10.3 percent of Korean-American registered voters are marked as inactive which means they haven’t voted in four years.

Among Korean-American voters, 54.5 percent are registered in the state as Democrats, 14 percent as Republicans, 28.5 percent are unaffiliated and the remainder are marked as “other.”

Peter Koo is running for his third term against Alison Tan, the spouse of Ron Kim, in District 20 where 5,546 of Korean Americans are registered, 59 percent of them as Democrats.

KACE is holding a debate between the candidates for City Council districts 19 and 20 on Aug. 19 at The First United Methodist Church in Flushing (38-24 149 Street).

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