APALC Mobilizes Asian American Voters in Southern California

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LOS ANGELES – In order to harness the untapped political potential of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in the Los Angeles area, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, has launched the “Your Vote Matters! 2012” campaign.  The campaign will empower and mobilize community members to exercise their voice at the ballot box, with a push to support Proposition 30 in the November 6th elections.

Your Vote Matters! 2012 includes 13 community based organizations and five youth groups that represent nine ethnicities in Southern California: Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, South Asian, Thai, and Vietnamese.

“This is a significant election year for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities,” said APALC Executive Director 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 ever have before, our voices have yet to be fully heard at the ballot box.  Our effort seeks to change this by providing our communities with personal encouragement to vote and key information about what’s at stake this election.”

“We’re very excited to work with this wide range of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander organizations to empower our community members to get to the polls on November 6th,” APALC Voter Engagement Manager Tanzila Ahmed said.  “So often, mainstream get-out-the-vote efforts overlook or lack the cultural and linguistic competence necessary to reach our diverse communities.  Our campaign will draw upon APALC’s previous successes in ethnic micro-targeting tactics with our 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.”

APALC also is a member of Reclaim California’s Future, a statewide coalition of organizations led by California Calls that have come together to educate and mobilize Californians about the importance of passing Proposition 30, which would raise billions in revenues to help solve the state’s budget crisis.

“Having the Asian Pacific American Legal Center as part of our coalition will be critical for us to reach the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in this very important election,” said Veronica Carrizales, policy and campaign development director of California Calls.  “California’s budget crisis affects all of our communities. We need to work together across all of our communities to pass Proposition 30 in order to protect funding for K-12 and early childhood education, guarantee funding to local counties for public safety and vital services, and free up as much as $5.6 billion in general fund dollars to restore funding for higher education, healthcare, childcare, and other critical services.”

“The Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population will benefit from our participation in the Your Vote Matters! 2012 campaign,” said Chris Vaimili, civic engagement coordinator for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities.  “Many of our youth have already been impacted by the budget cuts to education, so if we don’t come together as a community to address this crisis, we will see additional tuition increases and other enrollment barriers in the University of California, California State University, and community college systems.  Being a part of a larger, unified campaign will allow us to have a broader impact on the elections.”

In addition to voter education and mobilization, APALC will again monitor polling sites to protect the right to vote.  “Many Asian American voters rely on language assistance, such as translated ballot materials and bilingual election workers, to cast their ballots,” said Eugene Lee, voting rights project director for APALC.  “We will send out trained volunteers to poll sites on Election Day to ensure that voters have full access to this assistance, which in Los Angeles County includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and now for the first time, Hindi, Khmer and Thai.”

Your Vote Matters! 2012 campaign is a project of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center with the purpose of empowering, mobilizing, and protecting the rights of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Voters. APALC is a 501c3 non-partisan organization that does not advocate on behalf of parties or candidates. However, we will educate voters on select propositions.

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