On May 10th, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) held a voter registration drive in Fort Lee and Ridgefield H Mart.
It is especially alarming that the voter registration deadline (May 13th) for the New Jersey primary election on June 3rd is coming up, but many Korean Americans are not aware of the election dates, the type of election, and whether there are Korean American candidates running in the election.
93 percent of New Jersey residents are registered to vote, but only 53 percent of Korean American residents in New Jersey are registered. If 93 percent of the Korean American Community were registered voters and had 60 percent voting turnout, it could exert tremendous amount of power in New Jersey.
But many Korean Americans brushed aside the students participating in the registration drive because they were “busy.”
The biggest lesson that the Los Angeles Riot taught us was the importance of voting and being a registered voter. We thought having a nice house, nice car, and sending our children to prestigious schools were the ultimate measures of success, but LA Riot proved that those accomplishments were transient, and Korean Americans were considered as nothing more than shadows in the United States society.
The United States history has shown us again and again: a group that fails to represent itself is not subject to anything else but discrimination and belittlement.
During times of economic and social crisis, it is futile to blame the powerlessness of one’s community. Korean Americans must make an effort every day to empower their community, and in order to do that, voter registration and voting is key.