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updated: 11/2/2012 9:54 PM

Korean-Americans exercise early voting Saturday at Glenview Village Hall

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  • Korean voters prepare before they enter the polling booth.

    Korean voters prepare before they enter the polling booth.
    Hey-Kyung Eum

Randy Kim

(Glenview, IL)--Nearly 800 Korean-American voters came out in full force on Saturday for the Korean-American Early Voting Day event at Glenview Village Hall. As they joined many other voters on that busy day, Korean voters came together from the 8th, 9th, and 10th district to show their support for their community through voting.

Local candidates attended the event, and quickly noticed the enthusiastic support for this year's election from the Korean community. IL State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D) commented, "I think it's fabulous. I am happy to see the Korean community coming together to vote on this important election in Illinois and in our country." US-IL 10th District Rep. Robert Dold said, "Today's event is a great one. Their voices are being heard, and to have so many Korean-American voters come out is a great example of the strength of our democracy."

According to KRCC (Korean-American Resource and Cultural Center) and KA VOICE, the early voting day event was a successful one. Sik Son, Executive Director at KRCC and KA VOICE member, mentioned that "It was great to see so many Korean-American voters. There were many first-time voters." Son continued, "I was especially moved to see many senior citizens coming out together, and from long distances to get to that polling place." When asked why Korean-American seniors came out of their way to do the early voting event, Son replied, "They simply want to help, and contribute to our community."

With the language barrier a concern for the Korean-speaking voters, KA VOICE and KRCC volunteers worked hard to assist voters with the sign-in, and polling procedures. The extra assistance and support from the volunteers have made it possible for Korean-American voters, who once thought voting was intimidating and too difficult, to vote with ease.

Son noted that "once they voted, they realized how much easier it was for them, and that will motivate them to become regular voters in the future."

The importance of the Korean community in the 8th, 9th, and 10th district was not lost on the candidates' mind. Rep. Dold stated, "I want them to find out who I am. I want to be able to talk to them about the issues that are very important to them such as Medicare, immigration issues, and small businesses. I want to be a resource for them."

10th District US-IL House Rep Democrat Challenger, Brad Schneider commented "It's important to reach out to any community. I wanted to see the efforts of the Korean-American community showing its strength, and exercising their right to be there."

9th District US-IL House Rep (D) Jan Schakowsky commented, "The Asian-American community is an important part of all our communities. In the 9th district, it's one of the most diverse, and we need to send a clear message about the issues that are near and dear to the Korean and Asian-American seniors."

Although the population increase in the Asian-American community is growing in Illinois, along with the voter education awareness, the Asian-American representation at the political local, state, and federal level is still nearly non-existent. IL State Rep. (D) Daniel Biss said, "Asian-American representation in all political levels are not there, and it's a shame. That needs to change."

With the successful campaign of capturing nearly 800 Korean-American early voters at one polling place in the North/Northwest suburbs, it's a significant step that the Korean and Asian-American voice will continue to be heard loud and clear, and that the issues concerning their community will become an important platform for the elected officials.