New Campaign: Mobilizing Asian American voters in California

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Asian Americans make up a big chunk of California’s population. So they could make a huge impact come November. But the key word here is “could” as people who are eligible to vote…aren’t registering to vote.

But that could change, thanks to a new campaign launched by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. It’s called “Your Vote Matters! 2012.” The goal is to mobilize community members as well as empower them to exercise their voice at the polls.

“This is a significant election year for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities,” said APALC Executive Director and California Forward Leadership Councilmember Stewart Kwoh. 

“According to Census 2010, our communities were the fastest growing population in California, jumping more than 33 percent since 2000. But even though we make up over 15 percent of the state’s population and are voting in greater numbers than we have before, our voices have yet to be fully heard at the ballot box. Our effort seeks to change this by providing communities with personal encouragement to vote and key information about what’s at stake this election.”

Southern California represents nine different ethnicities: Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, South Asian, Thai and Vietnamese.

“So often, mainstream get out the vote efforts overlook or lack the cultural and linguistic competence necessary to reach our diverse communities,” said APALC Voter Engagement Manager Tanzila Ahmed. 

The campaign will use “phone banks, voter hotlines, and mailers to outreach to our diverse, multilingual community, while also relying on the expertise of our partners to relay this message to their respective communities,” said Ahmed.

This election season, 17 Asians are running for Congress in the U.S. It’s a historic number! Of the 17 races, six are in California. So the Asian American community should feel the excitement that their voices will be heard and supported.

Nationwide, Asians beat out Latinos as the largest group of new immigrants, pushing the total to a record 18.2 million, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

By turning these population numbers into votes, Asian Americans can play a major role in determining political races and the passage of propositions, especially in California. Super Tuesday of the 2008 Primary was a milestone in the emergence of Asian Americans as a factor in American Politics.  A CNN exit poll indicated that Asian Americans in California voted for Senator Hillary Clinton by a 3-1 margin (71 percent), allowing her to win the popular vote by eight points through an Asian American and Latino voting bloc,said Melany De la Cruz-Viesca, Assistant Director, UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center.

Besides voter education and mobilization, APALC will monitor polling sites to protect the right to vote.

“We will send out trained volunteers to poll sites on Election Day to ensure that voters have full access to this assistance,” said Eugene Lee, voting rights project director for APALC.


Cheryl Getuiza

All stories by: Cheryl Getuiza