When TV networks display the final presidential tally on election night in November, some 86 electoral votes will come from states whose total population is less than the number of New York City residents who are foreign born. Those 3 million New Yorkers are why the city Board of Elections website offers voter registration forms in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Bengali.
They also mean that when Governor Romney or President Obama talks about policy toward Iran, or Syria, or China, or Poland, there are thousands of people in the city and the metropolitan region with a personal stake in the issue. But foreign-born Americans are usually seen through a single-issue lens looking only at how they feel about immigration policy. Fact is, from gay marriage to healthcare, missile defense to the World Bank, immigrants and their children have a unique perspective on a range of national issues. In local races these voters sometimes make a difficult choice between backing a candidate who shares their background or supporting more established politicians to keep their community relevant.
Hoping to get a glimpse of these more complex and interesting stories of how the city's ethnic enclaves are participating in campaign 2012, City Limits and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism's Voices of New York have partnered to curate The World Votes Here, a website that will translate and aggregate political reporting from the local ethnic press and present original campaign reporting by journalists in those communities.
So far, the site features a profile of the Albanian candidate looking to score an upset Assembly victory in the Bronx, new efforts to maintain the impact of Latino voters, and a Queens race involving two Korean candidates and a Chinese hopeful.
Stay tuned for more!