Artists Join Forces in #VotingTogether Campaign To Turn Out the AAPI Vote

An excerpt of digital poster "Show Up For Future Generations" by Bianca Ng.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander electorates are poised to play a pivotal role in tomorrow’s election. Despite historically low voter turnout numbers (often due to structural barriers to voting), data suggest that the AAPI electorate are highly enthusiastic this year. With early voting already underway, Asian American voters have already cast half a million more ballots than in 2016.

To help encourage AAPI voters in 2020, the Asian American Pacific Islander Civic Engagement Fund (AAPICEF) launched the #VotingTogether program, which provides funding to artists to create bilingual artwork that could be shared digitally to help turn out the AAPI vote. Thirteen artists were selected through to AAPICEF’s open call to receive $1,000 to create their projects, which includes songs, dance, and digital artwork.

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National Exit Polls Totally Underestimated Clinton’s Support among AAPI Voters

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Following the devastating defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton by Republican nominee — and now President-elect — Donald Trump, national media outlets are now racing to figure out where it all went wrong. Some pundits have used national exit polling data to place the blame on voters of colour, noting that Black, Latino, and Asian voters supported Clinton at slightly lower margins than they voted to re-elected Barack Obama in 2012. Trump’s victory, they argue, is the fault of non-White voters whom they essentially blame for not acquiescing to their own electoral capture.

There are a couple of obvious issues with that damning narrative. One is, of course, that national exit polling data are wrong about Clinton’s support among AAPI voters.

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Why AAPIs Must Vote This November

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In one month, the votes will be tallied to decide the next president of the United States. Some Americans have already voted. Many others will cast their ballot on Election Day on November 8th.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing population in the United States. Yet, the AAPI community has among the lowest voter turnout across any racial group, as well as among the lowest voter registration rates. In the 2012 general election, the Census estimated that only 47.3% of registered Asian voters actually cast a ballot, while Pew reports a similar trend of low Asian voter turnout for midterm elections.

It is crucial for our community to reverse this trend, particularly as 2016’s Election Day draws near. It is incumbent upon AAPIs to cast our ballots.

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Asian Americans side with Blacks & Latinos (not Whites) in opinions on police effectiveness & racial profiling

Students at UC Davis tweeted this picture of themselves in solidarity with Ferguson protesters.
Students at UC Davis tweeted this picture of themselves in solidarity with Ferguson protesters.

It has been nearly a month since the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, and in that time, the nation has become engrossed in a long overdue national conversation over race, race relations, racial profiling and police brutality. Countless think-pieces have been written about police brutality, school-to-prison pipelines, racial profiling, the myth of Black criminality, Black-on-Black crime, and cultural pathology. In this past month, it has seemed as if the entire country is struggling through their first “race moment”, forced by Brown’s untimely death to grapple with the fact of institutionalized racism against the Black body; this seems like an issue that too many would rather ignore.

Consequently, several mainstream media outlets have reported on the stark racial divide between Black and White Americans on Ferguson and whether or not racism is a problem in America; nearly half surveyed White Americans think Brown’s shooting death is being overracialized. While two-thirds of Black Americans think excessive force by police is a problem, only one-third of White Americans agree. This clear chasm between Black and White attitudes on race and police effectiveness is both well-documented and not altogether surprising: these answers are heavily influenced by one’s own personal experiences with racism and police brutality, and both economic and skin privilege often protects Whites from unjust run-ins with local police.

But where do Asian Americans — who are both people of colour yet who endure a completely different set of racial stereotypes in America than do other minorities — fall on questions of police brutality?

One recent USC Dornsife/LA Times poll set out to answer that question, and the findings might surprise you.

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Are Asian Americans not voting?

Because every post about elections needs a generic picture of "I Voted" buttons.
Because every post about elections needs a generic picture of “I Voted” buttons.

2014 is turning out to be another critical mid-term election year, with most analysts predicting huge losses for the Democrats in both the House and the Senate. Whatever changes are made to the political distribution of Congress will critically impact the final two years of the Obama Administration: an administration that has been largely hamstrung in pursuing all of its major policy initiatives by obstinate and obstructive Republicans. Should the trend of Democratic losses in Congress continue, it could seriously hamper the chances that any real work will be done in the next two years in the Capitol.

Consequently, attention is focusing once more towards the electorate, and various voting groups. Asian Americans have routinely been cited as a growing swing electorate, one that I suggested made a significant impact in the outcome of the 2012 election. This year, Asian Americans — who make up about 4% of registered voters — could once again swing the election.

However, last week, the Pew Research Center published a report suggesting that compared to other minority groups, Asian Americans have the lowest voter turnout, at just 31%. And more disturbingly, our voter turnout rates have seriously declined in the last 20 years, compared to turnout rates of White and Black voters, which have remained stable or which have risen slightly.

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