In advance of the November 4 election, Advancing Justice – LA has been running the most linguistically diverse “get out the vote” phone bank in the nation, making thousands of calls in 17 Asian and Pacific Islander languages. The importance of these efforts are underscored by new data released this week by Advancing Justice – LA, highlighting the growing influence of Asian American voters in California.
Growing Impact and Importance of Asian American Voters
Asian Americans at the Ballot Box is a new report based on analysis of voter data from the 2012 General Election. Released at a press conference on October 30, “Asian Americans at the Ballot Box” documents the growing civic engagement and power of the state’s fastest growing racial group, as well as challenges to the community’s growing influence.
Among the key findings of the report are:
- Increasing numbers of Asian Americans are registering to vote statewide (number of Asian American registered in vote in California jumped 60 percent between 2002 and 2012)
- There were nearly 1.7 million Asian Americans registered to vote in California as of the 2012 Presidential election, and by the 2016 Presidential election, Asian Americans will comprise nearly 11 percent of California voters
- Asian American voter registration exceeded the margin of victory in 38 Congressional, State Senate, and State Assembly races during the 2012 General Election
“As Asian American and Pacific Islander communities continue to grow, so does their ability to affect the outcome of elections,” said Dan Ichinose, demographic research project director at Advancing Justice - LA. “Elected officials can no longer afford to ignore issues critical to our communities like immigration and health care reform.”
The report also notes, however, challenges in turning Asian American youth and immigrants, underscoring the importance of targeted voter engagement efforts including youth-specific campaigns as well as linguistically and culturally competent voter outreach strategies.
Getting Out and Protecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander Vote
Through the non-partisan “Your Vote Matters! 2014” campaign, Advancing Justice-LA has been working with community partners to turn out thousands of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters in Los Angeles and Orange Counties for the upcoming November 4th election.
Using bilingual staff and volunteers and culturally sensitive strategies, the “Your Vote Matters! 2014” campaign is partnering with 14 community-based organizations and four youth groups. Over 21 days, volunteers from these groups have been calling voters in 17 languages: Arabic, Bangla, Burmese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Khmer, Tagalog, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Urdu, Punjabi, Samoan, Thai, Tongan and Vietnamese. This campaign is the nation’s largest multilingual phone banking effort to “get out the vote” in the AAPI community.
“We find that when voters are asked about the voting process by someone from their own culture and in their own language, they stay on the phone longer and want to have a conversation,” said Tanzila Ahmed, Advancing Justice - LA’s voter engagement manager. “On the flip side, the volunteers making the calls – who range from 14 to 70 years old and are from the community – are finding a certain pride both in their culture and language, in providing help to new voters from their own community. It’s a win-win, both ways you look at it.”
In addition to mobilizing voters to the polls, Advancing Justice – LA is also working to ensure that voters are treated fairly and have access to translated voting materials and bilingual poll workers as required by law. On Election Day, we will send trained volunteers to scores of polling locations across Southern California. In Los Angeles County, written and oral language assistance is available under federal law in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese (with oral assistance also available in Bengali and Gujarati). In Orange County, language assistance is available under federal law in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese; under state law, language assistance is available in Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, and Tagalog at select polling locations.
“The goal of poll monitoring is to identify and address any problems that arise on Election Day so that voters, including first-time and limited English proficient voters, can assert their right to vote,” says Eugene Lee, democracy project director at Advancing Justice - LA.
As a reminder for Election Day:
- Get educated. Good online resources include the Easy Voter Guide. We also recommend the California Asian Pacific Islander Voter Guide.
- If needed, request translated sample ballots and voting materials from your county: lavote.net or ocvote.com.
- Go vote! Polls are open from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. Find your poll site at SoCalVotes.com. If you vote by mail, ballots must be received by Tuesday, Nov. 4th – or you can drop off your ballot at any polling site on Election Day.
Get help, if needed. The “Your Vote Matters! 2014” voter hotlines are:
- English: 213-241-0213
- Chinese: 213-241-8841
- Khmer: 213-241-8842
- Korean: 213-241-8840
- Thai: 213-241-8844
- Vietnamese: 213-241-8843
About the “Your Vote Matters! 2014” Campaign
The “Your Vote Matters! 2014” campaign is a project of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles with the purpose of empowering, mobilizing, and protecting the rights of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Voters. Advancing Justice - LA is a 501c3 non-partisan organization that does not advocate on behalf of parties or candidates. However, we will educate voters on select propositions. For more information on the campaign, please visit Your Vote Matters.
“Your Vote Matters! 2014” community partners include: API Equality-LA, Asian Youth Center, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment, Japanese American Citizens League, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Khmer Girls in Action, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Pilipino Workers Center, Thai Community Development Center, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and South Asian Network.