The Ethnic Minority Voice in the Midterm Election Season

It's almost the end of election season, and this year's midterm elections seem to be a bit strange. Election day is this Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

Midterm elections, many Americans feel, are the most underrepresented elections that the United States has. Part of this has to do with the low turnout rate of ethnic minorities, women and youth. General voter turnout has been low for all elections since the 1840s, but after 2008 when President Barack Obama was elected, more minorities felt like they had a voice. According to a Pew FactTank study, Obama's election and reelection brought in over 50 percent voter turnout of all people over 18 years old.

This entire issue of whether certain groups of people are going to vote or not is hard for campaigners to reach out, and get supporters. This got me thinking, so then I turned to my friends and colleagues to find answers. One of my close friends, Chris Hong, who is a 20-year-old Chinese American, said he just doesn't care.

"Whether I vote or not, it's not going to make a difference. These races are rarely ever close to tying, so one vote doesn't really matter," he said.

My generation, millennials, are viewed as less socially trusting and very liberal in political and social views, and part of that has to do with us being a more ethnically diverse group of youngsters. We also have more rampant voter apathy than any other generation.

So speaking with Chris and some of my other acquaintances didn't exactly surprise me. What did bother me, though, was the fact that these groups of people felt that they were unfairly represented in local, state, and the federal government. Chris told me that anyone we elect won't serve him or his ethnic group the way they wanted, so I refuted by saying "Wouldn't you be represented better if you voted more for the people you can trust?"

Of course, there is a lot more that goes into finding proper candidates to represent large groups of people. I won't deny that fact. There are other factors that play into why certain groups don't vote as often. For instance, the ethnic minorities who do care to vote are being denied to vote.

In Texas, strict voter identification laws are prohibiting people from casting their votes. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had warned about this law preventing people from voting.

"A disabled woman in Travis County was turned away from voting because she couldn't afford to pay her parking tickets. An IHOP dishwasher from Mercedes can’t afford the cost of getting a new birth certificate, which he would need to obtain the special photo ID card required for voting. A student at a historically black college in Marshall, who registered some of her fellow students to vote, won't be able to cast a ballot herself because her driver's license isn't from Texas and the state wouldn't accept her student identification card," reported Dana Liebelson and Ryan Reilly from the Huffington Post. 

Ginsburg had stated that the law “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands." So another part of the reason as to why many Americans may feel underrepresented are due to strict voter ID laws and other restrictions that muzzle their voices.

This just goes to show that voter turnout is not a one-sided battle for campaigners to try to win. Federal law needs to change to remove restrictions if the U.S. wants to be deemed truly democratic by nature.

My coverage on Asian American voters in the 2014 midterm elections