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updated: 10/26/2012 10:45 PM

Korean-Americans use their voting voice Saturday

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  • KRCC members registering new Korean-American voters in Schaumburg for the Presidential election.

    KRCC members registering new Korean-American voters in Schaumburg for the Presidential election.
    Hey-Kyung Eum

Randy Kim

Glenview, IL--1,000 strong Korean-Americans will show up to the first-ever Presidential Election Early Voting Day for the Korean community this Saturday, October 27th at Glenview Village Hall. It will be one of the largest early voting day events in the Asian-American community in Illinois, and as a result, it has attracted local political candidates to attend Saturday's upcoming event.

As the election is highly competitive in the North and Northwest suburbs, the Korean-American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC), and KA VOICE (Korean-American Voter Organizing Initiative & Community Empowerment) have been collaborating together to bring many Korean-American voters together at the same polling place on Saturday.

With the continued growth of the Korean and Asian-American community in the 8th, 9th, and 10th district, the Asian-American vote is starting to become an important voice in the election.

Local candidates attending the event are 10th district's current US House Rep. Robert Dold (R) and Democrat challenger, Brad Schneider, 9th district's current US House Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) and Republican challenger, Tim Wolfe, current IL State Rep, and State Senate candidate, Daniel Biss (D), and IL State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D).

Sik Son, Executive Director at KRCC and KA Voice member, mentioned that "As there are more Koreans and Asians living in the suburbs, and away from the city, we believe that it is important to reach out to our community, and help them get involved with civic outreach, and be educated about their local government."

According to the US Census Bureau in 2010, the Asian-American population in Cook County stands at nearly 363,000 people, a 26% increase from the 2000 year, and counts for 7% of the county population. In Lake County, the Asian-American population is estimated at nearly 51,000, but with a staggering 77% increase from 10 years before, and counts for 7% of the county population.

"Those numbers," said Son, "reflect the growing trends of where the Asian-American communities are heading towards. In years past, many politicians have ignored both the Korean and Asian-American communities because of the low turnout rate among those members, and because our community has not been vocally active in civic participation, and addressing concerns that affect them as a whole."

As a result, KA VOICE started in late November 2011 with the purpose of encouraging Korean-Americans to become voters, and be civically active in the community. The first meeting had only 5 members, but in the next meeting, there were 30 members, and before long, it reached as many as 500 members in a couple of months.

To reach out to the Korean-American community, KA Voice established several community events, invited local politicians to visit their community, registered new voters along with KRCC's help, and connected with local organizations, churches, and businesses to come together. Their mission is to have the community use their voices to vote, and express issues that affect their current everyday life and future.

Issues such as immigration, healthcare, language accessibility, and unemployment are among the top concerns for the Korean-American community. Son addressed that "without voting, the elected officials will continue to ignore those communities, so it is important that we explain the importance of voting to our community, and how it impacts the future of their family."

With the election remaining highly competitive, the Asian-American vote is becoming crucial to these local candidates, and it will become more significant in the future as the population growth and voter educational awareness in those communities will continue to increase.

The Korean-American Early Voting Day will take place at Glenview Village Hall, 1225 North Waukegan Road, Glenview, IL. The polling place will open this Saturday only from 9 am to 5 pm. It is open to all Cook and Lake County voters.

For questions about the early voting day, please contact Mr. Sik Son at (773) 588-9158.