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Asian-American Voter Registration Not Matching Population Growth

"Today APIAVote-Michigan staff and volunteers successfully registered over 100 voters on University of Michigan and Michigan State University campuses,” said Theresa Q. Tran, Executive Director of APIAVote-Michigan. Her group was one of over 2,000 groups across the country—including 317 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups—participating in National Voter Registration Day, the largest single-day effort of the year to register voters. Despite their success, experts say there is much work to be done.

“Voter registration continues to be one of the biggest hurdles to mobilizing Asian Americans at the polls,” said Tran. “As a group, we register at the lowest rates compared to any other racial demographic. As the fastest growing racial group in the state, it is important that we're active and have a voice, especially in state and local elections that often have the most immediate impact on our communities.”

Despite the Asian-American population increasing 46 percent between 2000 and 2010, those numbers do not necessarily carry over to the voting booth because a large percentage of adult AAPIs are not US citizens, have limited English proficiency, or are simply not registered to vote. According to Eugene Lee, democracy project director at Advancing Justice – LA, in California alone, there are 1.2 million Asian Americans who are eligible to vote who remain unregistered.

In addition to voter registration drives, some groups are working to make voting materials available in more languages. California’s online voter registration website, for example, is available in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese, as well as English and Spanish.

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