Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Election Watch 2016: Your Vote Matters Campaign Makes 35,000 Calls to Turn-Out AAPI Voters

Friday, June 10th 2016

This year’s California primary presidential election was one of the most closely watched and highly covered in recent decades, and voters responded to the excitement byregistering to vote in record numbers.

View more photos of our Your Vote Matters 2016 volunteers on Facebook.

As the fastest growing racial group in the state, the Asian American and Pacific Islander electorate jumped 60 percent from 2002 to 2012 and as of 2016, is expected to comprise 11 percent of the state’s voters. But mainstream candidate and issue campaigns have yet to prioritize our communities, discouraged by the diversity of the community, the many languages, and high rates of “no party preference” amongst AAPIs.  But the reality is that AAPIs are poised to be the “margin of victory” for campaigns that recognize our community’s potential.

In the meantime, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Joining forces with 20 community organizations in Los Angeles and Orange County, Advancing Justice-LA launched the nonpartisan Your Vote Matters 2016 campaign earlier this year to register, educate, and mobilize thousands of AAPI voters to “Voice Your Vote” at the ballot box. In one of the most linguistically diverse phone banking operations in the nation, we called voters in 12 languages - Bangla, Cantonese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Samoan, Thai, Tongan, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Together, we set up operations at 11 different locations across both counties, trained over 150 volunteers, and made 35,000 calls to AAPI voters from May 11th to June 7th.

“Your Vote Matters” partner organizations also registered thousands of new voters at cultural festivals, high schools, and community spaces. These efforts were featured in NBC NewsKPCC and the Washington Post. In addition, Advancing Justice-LA partnered with APIAVote to produce a special video featuring George Takei, John Cho, Constance Wu, Vincent Rodriguez III, Sonal Shah and Joey Quenga, encouraging our community to “Voice Your Vote”.  

Although our volunteers ran the spectrum from Korean high school students to Filipino workers to Thai senior citizens, they all had one thing in common: a desire to politically empower their community. And with bilingual speaking skills and a culturally competent approach, they were incredibly effective messengers to educate voters about the voting process and explain exactly what election participation means for our community.

The voters we talked to responded powerfully: the majority pledged to vote, and many people, eager to learn more, asked our volunteers about polling locations, in-language sample ballots, and where to find more information about the candidates on the ballot. Some voters even personally vowed that they would mobilize their family and friends to go to the polls. Our firsthand experiences prove that AAPI voters care greatly about engaging in the political process.

As the general election approaches in November, we’ll be ramping up our efforts to register AAPI voters, phone bank, hold candidate forums, distribute voter guides and monitor election sites across LA and Orange County. If you’re interested in getting involved, please fill out this interest form and we will follow up with you!
 

By Kelly Osajima & Shelly Chen, Democracy Project, Advancing Justice-LA

For Legal Help

Advancing Justice - LA’s hotlines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: family, immigration, consumer, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights.

English: 888.349.9695
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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.