Asian elected officials took the stage Wednesday morning at the Democratic National Convention, New America Media reports. The overall message to their fellow Asian Americans: Go vote.
While Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, only 48 percent of registered Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) voted in the 2008 election, according to recent census data. And a new poll shows that Asian Americans feel largely ignored by the political parties and are still an untapped resource in the political arena.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte), the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress, believes both political parties should increase outreach to AAPI voters. “More needs to be done,” Chu told KPCC after her speech at the caucus. “The Democrat party needs to reach out to Asian American voters through perhaps culturally specific mailers, language-specific mailers, and phone bankers. That can truly help.”
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says that Asian American officials should also do more to engage their community. “We are still suffering from the 50 percent turnout as opposed to a bigger number of Asian voters,” Lee told the caucus. “We need to increase this turnout in our community, especially in this election.”
AAPI voters could have a significant impact on the upcoming election, particularly on President Obama’s campaign, according to former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. “There are about 4.3 million AAPI registered voters—and 62 percent of them are Democrat registered voters,” Mineta said outside the room where the caucus was taking place, according to New America Media. “If more and more of our voters come out during the election, [the] AAPI vote is going to be a marginal victory for the Democrats.”
Although Asian Americans lean to the left nationally, the Republican Party is also reaching out, especially in states where the Asian American vote could affect close election results. The GOP has held meet-and-greets with Asian business owners and community leaders in Virginia and voter registration events in Nevada.
Bipartisan organizations like the Asian Pacific American Legal Center are working to educate the Asian American community about the political process and increase engagement. For more information and bilingual resources, contact APALC here.