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Across the US, Cambodian-Americans Prepare for the Polls

Neth Monorom, seen here, encourages Cambodian Americans to vote as the number of Cambodian American voters are still low.

Cambodian-Americans from around the country, and of varying demographics, say they will vote Tuesday.

WASHINGTON DC - Cambodian-Americans will go to the polls throughout the day Tuesday, to select a president and choose from among a number of local issues and candidates.

US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, have been campaigning for months throughout the United States, vying for America’s highest office amid a sluggish economy, deep national divisions on social, health and financial matters and an ongoing, costly war in Afghanistan.

Across the US, a diverse group of Cambodian Americans will take to the polls and have their say in issues that affect them.

Meas Chea, a social worker in Philadelphia, Penn., who left Cambodia 20 years ago, said he will choose a candidate who will better his living standards and maintain peace in the country.

“It is so important for Cambodian-Americans, and Americans in general, because if we wrongly select the leader, this will cause me to spend a lot of money on health care when I am sick,” he said.

He said he was looking for a candidate who would lessen taxes, provide better healthcare and prevent wars and deficits.

Keo Sambath, a dentist in Lowell, Mass., who left Cambodia in 1980, said election participation was crucial, especially in that it can help whole blocs of people.

“When we help them, they will help us,” he said of politicians. “Cambodians in my city, Lowell, have understood this for quite a long time. So one thing that we have to do is vote for whom we like.”

Tan Vibol, who left Phnom Penh in 1979 and is now a resident of Virginia, said the vote for president was an important one, but so is the four-year term.

“If we give him vote and he doesn’t do a good job for what we want and people want, then we have the right to select a new leader four years from now,” he said. “This is important for me.”

Cambodian-Americans from around the country, and of varying demographics, say they will vote Tuesday. Some were voting Democrat, others Republican.

“I am going to vote because I want the country to be better,” said Sam Sokunthea, a law student at Duke University in North Carolina.

“I’m happy to vote as a US citizen,” said Phay Ta, 53 and a first-time voter in the critical election state of Ohio. “I have the right to vote.”